“It was just amazing and very touching to see this big, normally gruff male pour his love and devotion into caring for Oscar,” Linfield adds.

The filmmaker confirms that through genetic testing the results show that Freddy is not the father of Oscar, so blood cannot be a factor when it comes to explaining the alpha male’s behavior.

And in trying to come to a conclusion for those viewers who are puzzled to see a chimpanzee act so out of character, Linfield can only point to humans.

“I think the best answer you can give is . . . well, why do humans adopt? There are people who adopt when they have children at home already. But I think if you can answer that question, you can probably answer the question of why Freddy did what he did. And we’re really not so entirely different. We have a lot of the same motivations and emotions it would seem.”

Animals Gone Wild

Chimpanzee portrays similar acts of love and heroism that have been proven to be popular with audiences in other recent family-friendly nature films as well, such as last year’s African Cats (narrated by Samuel L. Jackson) and 2009’s Earth (narrated by James Earl Jones).

But besides a fascination with animals in the wild, what’s the underlying draw? Linfield credits increasing environmental awareness in addition to the ongoing popularity of the big-screen experience.

“Cinema is a fantastic place to see a good nature film,” he explains. “It’s such a great place to have an immersion experience. If you’ve got an enormous image which is almost like you were there, and you’ve got sound all around you, if it’s done well it’s like being transported to a place in a way that you just don’t get in your living room.”

At its end, Chimpanzee’s journey to the Ivory Coast yields more than an impressive “postcard” of chimps swinging from jungle vines or a study in how best to crack open nuts. It offers moviegoers young and old some very interesting and poignant food for thought: not all males are behaving badly everywhere.

And in Freddy’s case, he's leading the pack.

Disneynature’s Chimpanzee is rated G and releases wide in theaters on Friday, April 20, 2012. For more information, please visit www.disney.com/chimpanzee.

For every moviegoer who sees
Chimpanzee during the film’s opening week (April 20-26, 2012), Disneynature will make a donation to the Jane Goodall Institute (JGI) through the Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund.

Photos courtesy of Disneynature.