Escape to Chimp Eden

(i)

 

Primate rescue tales too intense for little kids.

What parents need to know

Positive messages

The series spotlights the plight of chimpanzees in particular (and endangered animals in general), emphasizing the need for world involvement in protecting those whose populations are dwindling. Though tempers often flare in tense situations, the rescuers' focus is always on the chimps' emotional and physical well-being.

Violence

Chimps occasionally scratch and bite their rescuers. Sedatives are administered by syringes and blow darts. Officials carry guns during some rescue efforts. Cussons often talks about chimps being euthanized or "getting a bullet."

Sex
Not applicable
Language

"Ass" and "damn" are used infrequently.

Consumerism
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Some bystanders are shown smoking or drinking, and rescuers discuss the fact that beer and cigarettes are often used as incentives for chimps in captivity. Sedatives are used to ease the chimps' relocation process.

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.

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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?

QUALITY

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.

Families can talk 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?

TV details

Cast:Eugene Cussons
Network:Animal Planet
Genre:Reality TV
TV rating:TV-PG
Available on:DVD

This review of Escape to Chimp Eden was written by

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Quality

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Learning ratings

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  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Adult Written bysleepycow22 April 9, 2008

I cried

Animal abuse is heart wrenching and this show foregrounds it. It offers a dramatic and nerve wrecking illustration of the plight of abused primates. This is an important show for many of us. (I would recommend it for the 10+ crowd.) There are dramatic rescue scenes; however, there are also heartwarming depictions of the chimp's recovery process. I think this show is a must for anyone concerned w/ the plight of animals.
Parent of a 13 year old Written bytechiemom April 9, 2008

We LOVE this show!

This show provides a wonderful glimpse into the world of chimps. We have learned so much about the reality of chimp abuse, how rehabiliation works, how similar they are to humans, and how we CAN make a difference in the world! I would highly recommend this show to families with children above age 11. Watch it... you'll be glad you did!
Parent of a 15 year old Written byediet516 April 9, 2008

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