Greetings, Money Saving Parents! This is entry #3 in my Countdown to Earth Day series, a review of Disney Nature’s African Cats. I plan to review different Disney Nature films throughout the week and encourage families to watch each of these highly educational documentaries as they celebrate the planet on which we live and its many wonders. This post may contain affiliate links which are used to support this site and my family. However all opinions expressed are 100% my own. Enjoy!
Of all the continents on the planet, the one most associated with wildlife is Africa. Home to the world’s largest and fiercest living creatures, the African continent is teaming with animals striving to make the most of the land they call home and fighting for food and survival. Helping to control the populations of animals are Africa’s predators and among them, African lions and cheetahs are the ones most associated with top- of- the- food chain duties. DisneyNature has captured the lives of lions and cheetahs and in its 2011 documentary, Disneynature: African Cats , it successfully communicates what life is like for these big cats that call Africa home.
From Birth to Adulthood
African Cats devotes time between African lions and cheetahs and it shows what a day is like for a pride of lions and a female cheetah and her cubs. The pride of lions is led by Fang, a large but aging male lion who rules his roost with an iron fist. He is surrounded by lionesses and has numerous offspring. He is ready to put up a fight to protect them all and is fearless in the face of danger.
Sita is the proud mother of five cheetah cubs and, while she is forced to hunt and protect her five children on her own, she uses her experience and speed to her greatest advantage. She shows her youngsters how to hunt down gazelles, how to fend off potential attackers, and how to find food sources when the situation seems hopeless.
Life in the African Grasslands
African Cats is a documentary about the fascinating felines of the African heartland. Filmed entirely in the Masai Mara National Reserve in Kenya, African Cats affords a close- up sneak peek look into the lives of some of the world’s big cats. Viewers get to soak up some education about lions and cheetahs while also experiencing the gamut of emotions. Marvel at a female lioness as she chases down and kills a zebra for food. Watch in awe as the male lion Fang throws his weight around and shows who’s boss within his own pride, only to be out- muscled by a rival group of males. Feel empathy as one of the female lionesses is banished from the pride and must show her worthiness to get back in. And experience great sadness when Sita, the mother cheetah, loses two of her children to the vicious jaws of hyenas. It’s all part of life and part of growing up in the wild expanses of the African heartland and viewers will come away with newfound knowledge on these amazing cats and their daily fight for survival.
Education all the Way
DisneyNature has produced multiple documentaries about animals and the planet earth. African Cats was released in 2011 and was the first DisneyNature film that focused specifically on big cats. This documentary is narrated by Hollywood actor Samuel L. Jackson and it aims, above all, to educate viewers on Africa’s lions and cheetahs. It wants people to learn about the struggle these animals face each day as they search for food and try to ward off threats from other animals. Some many assume that predators face little or no danger, but as African Cats demonstrates, no creature in the animal kingdom gets an easy pass. They all must remain vigilant and must keep their guard up at all times. Danger lurks around every corner and these big cats have to stand their ground, or else.
One way that African Cats is a little different from the other documentaries in the DisneyNature series is that it is a little less humorous and features fewer songs. There are some slightly lightened- up moments, but African Cats maintains a more serious tone throughout. And there is little in the way of any soundtrack. There are plenty of sound effects, but the only featured song in the film is “The World I Knew”, played at the documentary’s closing moments.
African Cats is a very good educational documentary about African lions, cheetahs, and their day to day lives. The documentary displays the love, strength, and courage demonstrated by some of Africa’s big cats and it shows that even the king of the beasts does not have an easy, predictable life. Crocodiles, elephants, and even other African cats pose a constant threat. Some battles are won while others are tragically lost and fatal casualties are part of everyday life. It may seem harsh, and in many ways, it is harsh. But it is all part of the cycle of nature carried on each day in the African grasslands. Watch Disneynature: African Cats with your family and learn more what life is like for these magnificent predators.
Copyright 2014, Bryan Carey