Zebra In The Kitchen combines the talents of two icons of children's television, Ivan Tors who produced Flipper and Jay North who had finally grown out of playing Dennis The Menace. What they came up with is a film that only kids could possibly appreciate despite a wonderful group of comic character actors in small roles.
Young Jay North is not happy over his parents decision to sell the family farm and move to the city. Father Jim Davis was injured and can't work the farm as he used to. But this means that North will have to give up a mountain lion that he has had as a pet since it was a cub.
That's the dangers of taking a pet from the wild. One of two things will happen, either it will revert to its natural ways and turn on the owner or if you leave the animal it won't function in the wild. That problem was best dealt with in a far better film, The Yearling. The mountain lion stows away in the family truck. And then breaks loose and while it hurts no one, the city folks are real scared as well they should be.
Enter the management at the city zoo which is Martin Milner, Joyce Meadows and Andy Devine. They offer to take the mountain lion and keep him at the zoo. But neither North or the mountain lion are real happy with that. What to do, but North decides no animals should be kept and he gets Devine's keys and opens all the cages. Chaos descends on the city as the animals are running wild.
Instead of what does happen in real life North would have gotten a juvenile record and Devine would have been canned if not more. I think even the kids watching above a certain age would know that.
Oddly enough almost 30 years before Zebra In The Kitchen, Devine also played a zoo-keeper in the Bing Crosby classic Dr. Rhythm and one of high points of that film is an inebriated Devine letting loose the animals in his charge. Fortunately Bing saved him in the nick of time from letting loose the big cats which do get out here.
A really horrible premise and bad choices ruin from the start what Ivan Tors thought was a good idea for a family film.
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