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DVD Review: Loose at the Zoo

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It's impossible not to like animals at my house. I'm married to a veterinarian, have two young daughters, two dogs, and two cats. My house is a zoo. So when we get a chance to learn something about animals in other parts of the country, in the wild, or in some of our nation's best zoos, we tend to take advantage of it.

Loose at the Zoo is a collection of three episodes from the series by Smithsonian Networks and the Infinity Entertainment Group. Infinity has been doing a great job of distributing Smithsonian programs on DVD and this is no exception.

At Washington D.C.'s National Zoo, they have a number of very successful breeding programs, including those for the golden lion tamarin, the Sumatran tiger, and the kori bustard. These animals (both parents and any offspring) are well taken care of by the zoo staff who feed, clean, and care for them 24/7.

In "Baby New at the Zoo," we get a tour around the zoo to see some of its newest inhabitants. We see the golden lion tamarins, swinging from the trees with nary a cage or fence in sight. We see three Sumatran tiger cubs being fed and trained in preparation for their big public debut. We see a cute little kori bustard chick recently hatched and running around in the nursery. And we see a baby sloth bear learning to use his uniquely designed nose to get mealworms out of a log in his habitat.

In "Loose at the Zoo: Golden Lion Tamarins" we learn much more about these cute creatures who roam freely in a large area of trees at the center of the zoo. The keepers aren't afraid they'll go too far, for the tamarins are very territorial and like to keep together, but that doesn't keep them from exploring other nearby areas of the zoo or chasing the occasional squirrel invader.

It was quite interesting to see this family of four tamarins skillfully moving from tree to tree, and how the zoo staff were keeping them entertained. From the use of a modified cooler for a nest to mop heads laced with mealworms, it's obvious that the keepers (and many volunteers) are taking great care to keep these monkeys as wild as they can to eventually release them in their native habitat in South America.

And in "Tiger Tales," we learn how the zoo is preparing three Sumatran tiger cubs for their grand introduction to the public in their habitat. Through the use of training and gentle help to make sure that the cubs were safe in the lagoon in their enclosure, the keepers were keeping a close eye on the three big kitties before their big day. And mom was never too far away either.

Though we enjoyed the three episodes, it was quite apparent, watching them back to back, that there was a lot of footage duplicated between them. It was especially noticeable for the tamarin and tiger segments. And, like on some other Infinity/Smithsonian projects, there were no extras on the DVD beyond a promotion for some of the other Smithsonian series available.

Other than that, each episode was well constructed, with many facts to take away about each of the animals and tons of great footage. I know that my two girls enjoyed seeing these zoo babies and would have liked to have seen more.

If you're a fan of cute zoo babies, and especially if you have kids, Loose at the Zoo should be right up your alley. Check it out when it comes to DVD on May 12, 2009!

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About Fitz

Fitz is a software engineer and writer who lives in Colorado Springs, CO, with his family and pets, trying to survive the chaos!
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