This weekend, a select number of special guests attended the world premiere of Chimpanzee, the newest film from Disneynature. The film, which centers on Oscar, a young chimpanzee who is separated from his family, only to be taken in and cared for by the alpha-male chimp Freddy, debuted on Friday at the AMC Theater in Walt Disney World’s Downtown Disney before its theatrical premiere on April 20.
In attendance at the premiere was renowned chimpanzee expert Jane Goodall, who expressed that the film will bring some much-needed exposure to the plight of chimpanzees and the environment. While Goodall was not involved with the film’s production, Disneynature will be making a donation to her organization, the Jane Goodall Institute, for each person that goes to see Chimpanzee in its opening week. The Institute is an international wildlife organization that seeks to protect apes and their habitats, making this donation a great reason to check out Chimpanzee in its opening week.
Also on hand at the premiere were those involved with the creation of the film, including executive producer Don Hahn and directors Alastair Fothergill and Mark Linfield. These creators spoke of the difficult conditions involved with shooting the film, which would often require the crew to shoot for an entire day in the harsh environment of the Ivory Coast to capture only roughly 30 seconds of usable footage. Fothergill, who has worked with chimpanzees for over 25 years, made it clear that these trying conditions were worth it in the end, saying:
“Chimpanzees, without a doubt, are the best animals on the planet. They are breathtaking, wonderful, engaging animals.”
The premiere also counted some Disney Channel stars among its attendees, including Shake It Up‘s Bella Thorne, Jessie star Debby Ryan, and Lauren Marano of Austin & Ally.
While the film doesn’t make its official debut in theaters until April 20, families and educators can still begin to learn about chimpanzees at home today, thanks to some supplemental materials recently released by Disney. In a new Family Activity Book, children can complete puzzles and other fun activities that will teach them more about chimpanzees and their habitats. Additionally, teachers can use a special Educators’ Guide for grades 2-6, which features 100 pages of lessons and activities, with some interactive elements as well. The family activity sheets can be downloaded here, and the Educator’s Guide can be found here.
Chimpanzee will make its theatrical debut this Earth Day, on April 20, 2012. For more information, visit Disney.com/Chimpanzee.