Samuel L Jackson has recently been shooting African Cats, and in doing so will hopefully be saving large numbers of them. No, this is not the wildlife re-enactment of the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical, as many Barbara Streisand fans have wrongly assumed. Check out the official trailer further down the page.
Disney comes to East Africa, animation team stays at home
April 22nd is Earth Day and also the opening weekend for Disney Nature's new East African feature, African Cats, narrated by Samuel L Jackson, with Jordin Sparks fulfilling soundtrack duties. The film is a 'true life adventure', which draws upon genuine footage shot in the Masai Mara National Reserve, Kenya. A fundraising campaign for the Amboseli Corridor entitled "See 'African Cats,' Save the Savanna", will run in parallel with the opening week of the movie.
Family-friendly African Wildlife Epic
The story line follows a lion cub, appropriately named Mara, being raised by his lioness mom, and a feeline cheetah raising 5 cubs. Expect lots of slow-mo high-def close-ups of teeth-gnashingly adorable mom-cub action. No doubt there will have to be some meal-time footage as well, although it's not immediately clear how much alpha-predator food chain dominance will be on display.
To keep things ethical, Disney recruited the services of Tanzanian Cheetah guru, Dr Sarah Durant, who keeps herself busy by heading up the Tanzanian Cheetah Conservation Program, or Serengeti Cheetah Project, as it used to be known. This initiative was started back in the '70s by George and Lory Frame when almost nothing was known about what nature's most talented sprinters get up to on home turf.
By the way, did you know the collective noun for cheetahs is not a pride, but a coalition? They must be a politically inclined bunch those cheetahs. Check out more nerdy facts about cheetahs here, there are lots I didn't know, about their springy spines and stuff - interesting if you like that kind of thing.
Here's the official trailer for African Cats. You simply will not find cuter predators than this anywhere west of the Tanzanian border.
Ticket Sales Cash to The African Wildlife Foundation
Disney is putting their do-right pants on, not just for Earth Day, but the entire opening week of the movie (April 22 to April 28), and will donate 20 US cents to the African Wildlife Foundation for every ticket bought during this period.
The Amboseli Corridor Project
The direct beneficiary of the cash will be the Amboseli Corridor Project. According to the AWF, it is of critical significance to the long-term survival of big cats and other wildlife along the Kenya - Tanzania border:
“The Amboseli ecosystem stretches between Mt. Kilimanjaro, Chyulu Hills and Tsavo West National Parks in Kenya. Field research over many years has documented that wildlife frequently use the community lands outside the Park boundaries and travel through the corridor that connects Amboseli with the Chyulu Mountains. Protecting this area, the Amboseli Wildlife Corridor, is critical to the future of lions and other animals such as the elephant, cheetah, zebra, and giraffe.
(Quote taken from the AWF site)
The AWF is a great, credible and well-established charity currently celebrating it's 50th year conserving our part of the planet. We cannot recommend highly enough that everyone (yes you!) jump on this opportunity to direct funds their way, by seeing the movie in the coming week, and, if you can't do that, by donating directly or simply spreading the word about the offer.
If you're in the US, just buy a ticket and go see the film. If you're not (raises hand) you can still help out by donating at Causes.com. Disney's minimum AWF contribution is $100, 000. At today's rate, that converts nicely to some pretty serious cheddar in cheetah-country - 153,233,043 Tanzanian Shillings. Hopefully the cuddly cubs will put a lot of bums on seats over the coming week and the figure will be at least double that.
Check details of the Amboseli Corridor Project campaign here.
Do it now! See African Cats in the opening week - as Mr. Jackson once said, 'I DOUBLE DARE you mother... of small children who like animals!' (or something like that).
In case you're still reading, here's Jordin Sparks' impressions of the movie - she's basically the Babs Streisand of this Cats production and handles all the soundtrack stuff. And as I'm sure you'll agree, she's almost as cuddly as the cubs in the film.