A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this intense docuseries is likely to upset young and sensitive viewers, as it shows captive chimpanzees in devastating living conditions and very poor health. The host/star describes in detail how they've been neglected and abused by their owners, and he commonly mentions that particular animals would have been euthanized without his intervention. Sedatives are administered by blow darts, and officials carry weapons during tense confrontations with uncooperative chimp owners. Though the host usually explains his actions, be prepared to answer kids' and tweens' questions about what they see.
What's the story?
South African native Eugene Cussons is on a mission to rescue chimpanzees suffering cruelty and neglect at the hands of their human captors. He travels through his homeland and surrounding countries, following leads on abused animals and relocating them to the safety of the Jane Goodall Institute's Chimpanzee Eden, a rehabilitation center in South Africa where the rescued primates are exposed to their natural habitat and taught the basics of living on their own in the hopes that they can be reintroduced into the wild.
Is it any good?
If ESCAPE TO CHIMP EDEN's intent is to shock viewers into action on behalf of the world's captive chimpanzees, it might just succeed. Much of the footage of animals in dire captivity is heart-wrenching, and for viewers with limited experience with cases of animal abuse, the show will be an eye opener.
It's easy to feel uplifted by scenes of recovering chimps swinging through trees and socializing with each other, but, like the thematically similar show Animal Cops, this isn't a series for the whole family. Young kids and sensitive viewers -- not to mention animal lovers of all ages -- are likely to find the rescue scenes very disturbing. Add to that the tension that builds during confrontations between rescuers and neglectful owners, the many references to animals being killed or euthanized, and it's clear that this one is best reserved for sturdy older tweens and up.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how the media uses visual shock value to emphasize specific points or messages. How do pictures and video footage tell stories that words alone can't? Would you have been as affected by the stories in this series if you simply read about them? What role does editing play in a show's impact? Who do you think are the show's target viewers? Why?