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Young orphaned elephants and orangutans in the lush rainforests of Borneo are cared for, until time to let them go back to the wild, by world-renowned primatologist Dr. Biruté Mary Galdikas. Across the rugged Kenyan savannah celebrated elephant authority Dame Daphne M. Sheldrick, does the same for orphaned baby elephants. Together with their teams they rescue, rehabilitate, nurture and eventually return the animals back to the wild.

Review by Louise Keller:
There are plenty of ooh and ah moments in this splendid documentary for all ages in which we are privileged to enter a special world where orphaned baby elephants and orang-utans are nurtured. A baby elephant suckles milk from a bottle; a little orangutan soaps itself, comically tasting the suds intermittently. The magic of 3D kicks in as an elephant trunk reaches out and we feel as though we can almost touch it. Although the animals live thousands of miles apart in Africa and Borneo, there are parallels to their rescue and care before they can be released back into the wild. Their plight has been championed by two extraordinary women.

Over 200 baby elephants whose mothers have been poached have been rescued by Dame Daphne Sheldrick in Kenya during the past 50 years and helped to heal both physically and emotionally. They might look big to us, but these extraordinary creatures are just big babies and they need every bit as much care. Bottle fed with a formula that has taken 28 years to perfect, the elephants are given love and security in a rehabilitation process that sees them successfully returned to a compound with other elephants. How do they choose the right keepers? It seems the elephants choose them - as they are entertained, played with, tucked up and kept company at night. As Morgan Freeman tells us in his informative narration, elephants can read our heart.

In Borneo, renowned primatologist Dr Dr Biruté Galdikas and her team looks after orphaned baby orangutans whose mothers have been killed and their forest cut down. One adorable baby with a nonchalant expression holds two bottles of milk, alternating feeding itself with one of its feet and occasionally pours the milk down his auburn coat. Like the elephants, they need love. The littlest ones have nappies and they are sung to and stroked to sleep at night. Their climbing skills are honed in jungle gyms where they play and learn survival skills. One straddles between two trees in what could only be called a mid-air splits as it munches happily on a durian.

The film traverses from Africa to Borneo and back again as we watch the progress and development of the baby elephants and orangutans. We become involved in the plight of specific animals and our eyes become moist as they are given the gift of freedom for which they have been groomed.

Informative, funny and often moving, this wonderful documentary offers a special opportunity for a rare insight into these amazing creatures, which are given surrogate mothers for a short, vital interlude, before re-entering the animal kingdom for which they were intended.
First published in the Sun-Herald

Review by Andrew L. Urban:
The magic of 3D comes into its own in a doco like this as the camera snuggles up close to the baby elephant as it extends its trunk for a drink, or the baby orang-utan swings playfully across the camera, close enough to count every red hair on its body. The landscapes, too, are so much more 'present' in 3D.

The story is pretty 3 dimensional too; well, two stories, actually, of two extraordinary women who have devoted their entire lives to caring for these orphaned animals halfway across the world from each other. Nothing but human decency glues the stories together.

In both cases, man has brought the evils upon the animals. In the case of the orang-utans, it's the timber logging in Borneo that has destroyed their natural habitats. In Kenya, it's the ivory poachers who butcher elephants for their tusks, leaving orphans in their wake.

But in both cases it is man's better half - woman - who has come to the rescue. That's not to ignore the valuable and caring attention provided by the male teams both women oversee.

The film has all the emotional punch of a family drama, with plenty of cuteness and lots of work, all set against the backdrop of an otherwise cruel world. Morgan Freeman's narration helps bridge the gaps as we move from one baby animal orphanage to another and the camera does the rest. Neither soppy nor schmaltzy, Born to Be Wild is a fascinating glimpse into another dimension of our world.

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(US, 2011)

CAST: Documentary featuring Birute Mary Galdikas, Dame Daphne Sheldrick

NARRATION: Morgan Freeman

PRODUCER: Drew Fellman

DIRECTOR: David Lickley

SCRIPT: Drew Fellman


EDITOR: Bbeth Spiegel

MUSIC: Mark Mothersbaugh

RUNNING TIME: 40 minutes



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