Movie Mom

Movie Mom


The Real Story: We Bought a Zoo

posted by Nell Minow

The new Cameron Crowe movie starring Matt Damon and Scarlett Johansson is based on a true story about a real family that bought a real zoo. Damon’s character is based on author Benjamin Mee (shown here with Damon), who wrote We Bought a Zoo: The Amazing True Story of a Young Family, a Broken Down Zoo, and the 200 Wild Animals that Changed Their Lives Forever.

The real-life story is a little different from the one in the movie.  Both Damon’s character and the real-life Mee are widowers with young children.  But the real Mee bought the zoo with his mother, brother, and sister before his wife died.  The movie zoo is in the US.  The Dartmoor Zoological Park is located in southwest England.  Its 33 acres of woodland include tigers, lions, jaguar, lynx and cheetah, bears, wolves, tapir, capybara, racoons, meerkats, monkeys, deer, owls, ostrich, lechwe, bugs, reptiles and much, much more.  Mee’s charming description of his family’s decision to buy the zoo and their early days is on their website.  But it doesn’t say anything about a zookeeper on staff who looks like Scarlett Johansson.



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  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Shari

    It doesn’t matter that stuff was added to make the movie to fit Hollywood, the story is all the same, a man, did something amazing and lives were transformed and that is all that mattered. It touched my heart. I loved the characters of your children, I hope they weren’t fictionionalized .you did a great thing, and if I ever get to England I am coming to visit.

    • Nell Minow

      Great comment, Shari, thanks! I’m so glad you loved this movie.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment luana

    I know hollywood changes stories to make a good movie but was there really a love story for you and for your son?

    • Nell Minow

      You’re right, Luana. The love stories were added for the movie.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Pauline Mahan

    I just watched the wonderful movie based on this zoo. I really was inspired by the courage this family went through to take a place where people had given up and turn into back into the successful place that it has become today. It took alot of time and patience to give back to the animals hope that there are others willing to care for them and it also helped to bring the family closer together. Thank you for sharing this wonderful story to the world.

    • Nell Minow

      Thanks, Ms. Mahan! I’m so glad you enjoyed the film.

  • http://Iloveit Kiara

    I can’t believe that they bought this story in a movie I loved it . I thought that that story was magical it even made me cry.i hope there is a second movie about we bought a zoo.thank you so muck now I know that I am lucky because i have have got. A mom here with me.
    So thankyou for making this movie.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment gale mumma

    i thinkbe another part someday this is the 2nd time i have watch this movie. this is a good movie ,i hope there will love this

  • Pingback: Mrs. Lomonico's Learning Lounge » Blog Archive » MOVIE PERMISSION SLIP — WE BOUGHT A ZOO

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Hali

    I just watched this movie for the first time. Been aiming to see it before now. This is now one of my favorite movies and I know would like to go to the zoo itself. It will be a long time from now since it’s located in England but there is a possibility for everything!The kids in the movie are adorable and I would love to meet the real family.

    • Nell Minow

      Thanks, Hall! So glad you share my appreciation for this under-appreciated film.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Linda

    I loved this movie! brught tears to my eyes but it was such a wonderful story.

    • Nell Minow

      Thanks, Linda! I loved it, too.

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