Parents' Choice Foundation: Reviewing Children's Media Since 1978

Animal Passport

Animal Passport

Spring 2009 DVD
Ages: 2 - 8 yrs.
DVD Price: $6.99
Animal parks (i.e. zoos) are great places for children to learn about non-native creatures and their habitats. Here, the most famous indigenous animals of Africa, Australia, and Asia are featured in three separate episodes. At the Out of Africa Wildlife Park in Arizona, we see lions, leopards, ostriches, a cheetah, and elephants, and learn about how to tell an African elephant from an Asian one. (Hint: the ears are shaped like African continent!)

The segment on Australia featured koalas, emus, and how to tell the difference between kangaroos and wallabies, as well as a look at New Guinea singing dogs, relatives to the dingo. Unfortunately, this segment was marred by the (otherwise engaging) narrator's execrable attempts at an Australian accent. I don't know why so many American writers put Aussie patois in their scripts, when they would no more write "in an African accent" or "Asian accent" for other segments.

In the Asia episode, we learn that some of the planet's smallest and largest species are found there: the smallest bears, the giant pandas, tigers (biggest cats on earth), the great apes, and more about Asian elephants, used as draft animals for millennia, unlike their African counterparts. It would have been interesting for kids to see footage of elephants in some of the cities of India or Thailand, since that's a startling sight to Westerners.

While much of the vocabulary is a little too advanced ("verdant," "carnivore") for the youngest intended audience members, they enjoyed watching the images nevertheless. Considering the bargain price tag and the amount of interesting information, this will be enjoyed by many families…just not those with Australian friends.

Reilly Reagan   ©2009 Parents' Choice
Reilly Reagan, M.L.S. is a librarian and teacher currently working as a full-time mom. She has been reviewing media since 1991, writing for Library Journal and Video Librarian magazines. Her eight-year old and five-year-old sons enjoy helping with critiques.

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