Zookeeper (film)

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Theatrical release poster
Directed byFrank Coraci
Screenplay by
Story by
  • Jay Scherick
  • David Ronn
Produced by
CinematographyMichael Barrett
Edited byScott Hill
Music byRupert Gregson-Williams
Distributed by
Sony Pictures Releasing
Release date
  • July 8, 2011 (2011-07-08) (United States)
Running time
103 minutes[1]
CountryUnited States
Budget$80 million[2][3]
Box office$169.8 million[3]

Zookeeper is a 2011 American fantasy comedy film directed by Frank Coraci, with a screenplay by Nick Bakay, Rock Reuben, Kevin James, Jay Scherick, and David Ronn, from a story by Scherick and Ronn, and produced by Todd Garner, James, Adam Sandler, Jack Giarraputo, and Walt Becker. The film stars James, Rosario Dawson, and Leslie Bibb with the voice roles from Cher, Nick Nolte, Sandler, Sylvester Stallone, Judd Apatow, Jim Breuer, Jon Favreau, Faizon Love, Richie Minervini, Maya Rudolph, and Bas Rutten. It is about an unlucky zookeeper and the talking animals at his zoo who break their silence to help him find love.

Filming began in

Happy Madison (as well as their first production to be released after the company had filed for bankruptcy the year prior), though the film, like a majority of the Happy Madison output, was distributed by Columbia Pictures.[4] Zookeeper was released in the United States on July 8, 2011.[5]
It received mostly negative reviews from critics and earned $169.8 million on an $80 million budget.


In 2006, zookeeper Griffin Keyes proposes to his girlfriend Stephanie, but is turned down. She says his career as a zookeeper is the reason, breaking his heart.

Five years later in 2011, Griffin is now the head zookeeper at the Franklin Park Zoo, caring deeply for the animals. That night, Griffin holds an engagement party there for his brother Dave, but freaks out when he discovers that Stephanie was invited. Dave suggests that Griffin work with him at his car dealership to get Stephanie back, so Griffin considers doing it.

The animals hold a meeting that evening as they feel that Griffin is the best zookeeper, so they decide to find some way to help him win back Stephanie. Jerome the brown bear suggests that they teach Griffin their mating techniques, but Joe the lion protests, reminding them that it's against the animal code to talk to humans. Donald the monkey suggests that they make Griffin look like a hero when Stephanie is at the zoo tomorrow.

The next day, Donald lets out Joe, who confronts Stephanie and Dave's fiancée Robin. Griffin ruins the animals' plan by failing to jump into the lion enclosure, and instead Joe is captured by the zoo veterinarian named Kate. When he climbs out of the enclosure, Joe accidentally yells at Griffin in frustration, causing Griffin to believe that he has gone mad. That night, all the animals break the code of silence and tell Griffin that they will teach him to win back Stephanie. He learns their different mating rituals, ending up humiliating himself at a party in front of the other zookeepers and the guests.

Griffin then has a talk with Bernie, a forlorn Western lowland gorilla who has spent years in a deep enclosure after allegedly attacking a zookeeper named Shane. Bernie tells Griffin that Shane fell when he was abusing him, but lied, saying that Bernie attacked him, causing the zoo to close down Bernie's enclosure and move him into the cement pit he hates. This caused Bernie to mistrust humans. Griffin, empathizing with Bernie, decides to take him out on the town (posing him as a guy in a costume), and the two bond as they become friends.

Griffin discovers that Stephanie is dating another ex-boyfriend, a bully named Gale. Joe's mate Janet tells Griffin that the best way to attract a female is to be seen with another female, so Griffin asks Kate to go with him to Dave and Robin's wedding.

Griffin successfully grabs Stephanie's attention by first showing off with Kate, then standing up to Gale. Stephanie asks him out to dinner and after they go to a fashion show. Stephanie convinces Griffin to quit his job and he accepts Dave's job offer. This upsets Kate, and also Bernie, who tells him that Griffin quitting proves that he can't trust humans. As he leaves, Griffin warns Shane not to hurt Bernie. Kate decides to leave the zoo and accepts a job in Nairobi.

Griffin becomes a star employee at the car dealership, but finds he misses working at the zoo. When Stephanie proposes to him in the midst of his success, he refuses without hesitation, dumping her as he realizes that she doesn't truly love or accept him for who he is and that their relationship was all conditional to her.

He then goes to the zoo, apologizing to Bernie who he sees has been beaten by Shane. The animals tell him that Kate is heading to the airport, so Griffin heads out to stop her; stopping at Shane's house first to kick him into the wall for hurting Bernie again. With Bernie's help, Griffin manages to catch Kate on the bridge and confess his love for her. The two kiss.

Six months later, Griffin and Kate have started a loving relationship and are back at the zoo. Bernie is also now living in a new enclosure where he gets a great view of the city.


  • Kevin James as Griffin Keyes, the lead zookeeper.
  • veterinarian
    and Griffin’s wife.
  • Leslie Bibb as Stephanie, Griffin's ex-love interest
  • Joe Rogan as Gale, Stephanie's ex.
  • Nat Faxon as Dave Keyes, Griffin's brother.
  • Ken Jeong as Venom, a worker at the reptile house.
  • Steffiana de la Cruz
    as Robin Keyes, Dave's fiancé later turned wife. De La Cruz is the real life wife of Kevin James.
  • Thomas Gottschalk as Jürgen Mavroc
  • Donnie Wahlberg as Shane, the abusive zookeeper.
  • Brandon Keener as Nimer


Animal voices



On April 22, 2008, it was announced that Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) had purchased the script of the film, for $2 million, against DreamWorks Pictures and Walt Disney Pictures, and with Walt Becker attached to direct and produce.[6]

Filming and giraffe's death

Filming began in Boston on August 17, 2009, aiming for a release in October 2010, which was then released on July 8, 2011. Filming ended on October 30, 2009.[7]

Tweet, the giraffe who rose to fame as a star in the classic Toys "R" Us commercials (by being cast as Geoffrey, the company's official mascot) and who appeared alongside Jim Carrey in the film Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, died after filming Zookeeper at the Franklin Park Zoo.[8] During the filming 18-year-old giraffe Tweet died after eating pieces of blue tarp that covered his cage. He was being held in a 20-by-20 foot stall and collapsed in his pen, causing PETA to come down hard on the filmmakers and stage protests at the film's premiere.[9]

The two bears in this live action film were performed by Heber City, Utah's Wasatch Rocky Mountain Wildlife veteran Grizzly actors Bart the Bear 2 and Honey Bump.[10][11]

PETA also urged the public to boycott the film.[14]





Around 50 people came to the film's premiere at the Regency Village Theatre in

Westwood, Los Angeles, California, to protest against the filmmakers for their alleged animal abuse. Frank Coraci claimed that the animals were not harmed during production. In an interview, Coraci stated, "... We worked with people who love their animals and [the American] Humane Association was there to ensure that they were being treated correctly. We didn't do anything that we shouldn't do. We treated the animals with love and respect."[14]

Home media

The film was released on DVD and Blu-Ray on October 11, 2011.


Box office

Zookeeper made its debut in 3,482 theaters in the United States and Canada. It grossed $7.4 million on its opening day and $20.1 million on its opening weekend, ranking it #3 for the weekend behind holdover Transformers: Dark of the Moon and newcomer Horrible Bosses.[15] The film earned a worldwide total of $169,852,759.[3]

Critical response

On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 14% based on reviews from 133 critics and an average rating of 3.60/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "Zookeeper smothers Kevin James's [sic] with a sodden script and a surfeit of jokes inappropriate for the young viewers who would be intrigued by its juvenile storyline."[16] On Metacritic, the film has a score of 30 out of 100 based on 29 critics, indicating "generally unfavorable reviews".[17] Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "B+" on an A+ to F scale.[18]

Brian Lowry of


Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times gave the film three out of four, stating, "Look, a great movie this is not. A pleasant summer entertainment it is. I think it can play for all ages in a family audience... and besides, I'm getting a teensy bit exhausted by cute little animated animals. The creatures in this zoo all have the excellent taste to be in 2D."[22] Sean O'Connell of The Washington Post wrote: "Pratfalls and agonizing tumbles appear to be James's business, and man, business is booming."[23]


Mary Pols of Time named it one of the Top 10 Worst Movies of 2011.[24] British newspaper The Telegraph named Zookeeper one of the ten worst films of 2011, saying "Portly Kevin James is the hero of this "comedy", which boasts five screenwriters and not a single amusing moment."[25]

Award Category Recipients Result
Teen Choice Award[26] Choice Summer Movie Star – Female Rosario Dawson Nominated
Razzie Award Worst Supporting Actor Ken Jeong Nominated


  1. ^ a b c d e f McCarthy, Todd (July 7, 2011). "Zookeeper: Film Review". The Hollywood Reporter. Archived from the original on February 19, 2017. Retrieved February 18, 2017.
  2. ^ Kaufman, Amy (July 7, 2011). "Movie Projector: 'Transformers' expected to crush newcomers 'Zookeeper' and 'Horrible Bosses'". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on August 28, 2011. Retrieved July 11, 2011.
  3. ^ a b c "Zookeeper". Box Office Mojo. IMDB. Archived from the original on December 20, 2014. Retrieved November 20, 2014.
  4. ^ Fleming, Mike (April 4, 2010). "MGM Uncertainty Prompts Sony To Take Over 'Zookeeper' Domestic Distribution". Deadline. Archived from the original on April 7, 2010. Retrieved April 8, 2010.
  5. ^ Sperling, Nicole (April 27, 2010). "Sony moves upcoming Kevin James comedy 'Zookeeper' into summer 2011". Entertainment Weekly. Archived from the original on July 1, 2010. Retrieved June 21, 2010.
  6. ^ "MGM gets 'Zookeeper'". www.hollywoodreporter.com. 22 April 2008. Archived from the original on 2023-07-22. Retrieved 2020-12-20.
  7. ^ "Zookeeper Film Production Details". Variety. September 10, 2009. Archived from the original on September 19, 2012. Retrieved June 21, 2010.
  8. ^ Valencia, Milton J. (15 September 2009). "Giraffe dies on Franklin Park Zoo film set – The Boston Globe". boston.com. Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 16 April 2020.
  9. ^ "Films Where Animals May Have Indeed Been Harmed". The Dodo. Archived from the original on 2023-04-07. Retrieved 2022-05-24.
  10. ^ "Bart the Bear 2". Archived from the original on 2021-11-24. Retrieved 2021-12-21.
  11. ^ "Honey Bump". Archived from the original on 2021-12-21. Retrieved 2021-12-21.
  12. ^ "Group claims elephant abuse in film " Archived 2011-05-14 at the Wayback Machine, Stuff (New Zealand)/Reuters, May 11, 2011
  13. ^ "Movie Star Electric Shocked". ADI. May 7, 2011. Archived from the original on June 5, 2011. Retrieved May 11, 2011.
  14. ^ a b "PETA protests at 'Zookeeper' premiere. Director says animals were treated 'with love and respect'". Entertainment Weekly. July 7, 2011. Retrieved July 7, 2011.
  15. ^ "'Transformers' Stays on Top, 'Bosses' Fires 'Zookeeper'". July 10, 2011. Archived from the original on April 23, 2019. Retrieved February 18, 2020.
  16. ^ "Zookeeper (2011)". Rotten Tomatoes. 8 July 2011. Archived from the original on 4 July 2021. Retrieved June 24, 2021.
  17. ^ "Zookeeper". Metacritic. CBS. Archived from the original on July 13, 2011. Retrieved July 8, 2011.
  18. ^ "CinemaScore". Archived from the original on 2018-12-20.
  19. ^ Lowry, Brian (7 July 2011). "Zookeeper". Variety. Archived from the original on 12 August 2011. Retrieved 25 July 2020.
  20. ^ Todd McCarthy (7 July 2011). "Zookeeper: Film Review". The Hollywood Reporter. Archived from the original on 2020-09-26. Retrieved 2020-07-20.
  21. ^ "Red Letter Media Special Edition: The Zookeeper trailer". redlettermedia.com.
  22. ^ Roger Ebert (July 6, 2011). "Zookeeper Movie Review & Film Summary (2011)". Chicago Sun-Times. Archived from the original on January 29, 2016. Retrieved July 25, 2020.
  23. Washington Post. Archived from the original
    on 2013-11-08.
  24. ^ Pols, Mary (December 7, 2011). "The Top 10 Everything of 2011 – Zookeeper". Time. Archived from the original on January 7, 2012. Retrieved December 13, 2011.
  25. ^ "Ten worst films of 2011". The Telegraph. London. December 15, 2011. Archived from the original on January 7, 2012. Retrieved December 17, 2011.
  26. ^ Ng, Philiana (2011-07-19). "Teen Choice Awards 2011: 'Pretty Little Liars,' Rebecca Black Added to List of Nominees". The Hollywood Reporter. Archived from the original on 2011-07-22. Retrieved 2011-07-27.

External links