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We Bought a Zoo (2011)

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Set in Southern California, a father moves his young family to the countryside to renovate and re-open a struggling zoo.



(screenplay), (screenplay) | 1 more credit »
2,149 ( 228)
1 win & 8 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Peter MacCready (as Angus MacFadyen)
Mr. Stevens (as JB Smoove)


Benjamin has lost his wife. In a bid to start his life over, he purchases a large house that has a zoo. This is welcome news for his daughter, but his son is not happy about it. The zoo is need of renovation and Benjamin sets about the work with the head keeper, Kelly, and the rest of the zoo staff. But, the zoo soon runs into financial trouble. The staff must get the zoo back to its former glory, pass a zoo inspection, and get it back open to the public. Written by Kad

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Comedy | Drama | Family

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG for language and some thematic elements | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

23 December 2011 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Un zoológico en casa  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office


$50,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$9,450,000 (USA) (23 December 2011)


$75,621,915 (USA) (11 May 2012)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

| |


Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?


Thomas Lennon was considered for the role of Walter Ferris. See more »


Kelly tells Rosie that tigers don't roar, they chuff. In actuality, tigers can roar; chuffing is their alternative to purring. See more »


[first lines]
Dylan Mee: My dad is a writer who specialized in adventure.
Benjamin Mee: This is Benjamin Mee. I am surrounded by hundreds, probably thousands of killer bees. If I wasn't wearing this suit, I would be dead in an instant.
Dylan Mee: He interviewed dangerous dictators.
Hugo Chavez: Take this message to that American cowboy. We already gave a 10 billion dollar oil credit to China. Swallow that, Mr. Danger!
Benjamin Mee: What's your favorite movie?
Hugo Chavez: Toy Story.
[to his staff]
Hugo Chavez: The first one or the second one?
Segundo: The second.
See more »


Featured in Maltin on Movies: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2011) See more »


Go Do
Written by Jon Thor Birgisson (as Jón Þór Birgisson)
Performed by Jon Thor Birgisson (as Jónsi)
Produced by Jon Thor Birgisson (as Jón Þór Birgisson), Alex Somers, Peter Katis
Mixed by Tom Elmhirst
Courtesy of XL Recordings/Parlophone
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

In praise of earnestness
26 December 2011 | by See all my reviews

I am grateful that in this cynical world, there are still artists who are courageous enough not to run from earnestness, but to embrace it. Cameron Crowe has done just that with WE BOUGHT A ZOO. This is a beautiful movie, full of life - truthfully acted, beautifully shot and lovingly directed. I expected to cry (which I did, many times) but I didn't know that it would also be so funny with levity coming just when you need it. Matt Damon was brilliant as the heartbroken but hopeful father. And my only gripe about Thomas Haden Church is that there wasn't more of him! The kids were all brilliant -- not an ounce of self-consciousness to their acting, which is rare when it comes to child actors. And the final scene alone is worth the price of admission. Anyone willing to open his or her heart will fall in love with this movie like I did. Kudos to all involved.

101 of 126 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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