We Bought a Zoo


We Bought a Zoo

Written by 
Based on "We Bought a Zoo" by Benjamin Mee

Director Cameron Crowe
Matt Damon, Scarlett Johansson, Thomas Haden Church, Patrick Fugit, Elle Fanning, Colin Ford, John Michael Higgins

Category    Employee Engagement,Enterpreneurship& Innovation,Goal Setting,Organizational Commitment,Teams& Coaching      


20th Century Fox



Language English
124 min

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The story picks up after the wife of Benjamin Mee (Matt Damon) dies. He is struggling with a teenage son facing expulsion from school, and is desperate to rescue his family by instilling a sense of courage and adventure in his children. Benjamin decides his family needs a fresh start, so he and his two children move to the most unlikely of places: a zoo. The zoo is need of renovation and Benjamin sets about the work with the head keeper, Kelly (Scarlett Johansson), and the rest of the zoo staff. With the help of the staff, and with many misadventures along the way, the family works to return the dilapidated zoo to its former wonder and glory. It is important to note that the movie is inspired by real events.

Key Themes
“We Bought a Zoo” is a heartfelt and inspiring film about how a man, with no experience with animals or with running a business, buys a failed zoo. What he has is a vision, a mental image of what could be. He is convinced that the place, being outdoors in nature, and working with animals will be good medicine for his children. The family deal with each other’s pain through conflict followed by teamwork and the eventual embrace of their new adventure.

Benjamin is an inspirational figure, who unites, inspires and motivates others. The zoo staff is at first sceptical about his plans but then is lifted by his high energy and enthusiasm for re-opening the zoo. When the energy of the staff is deflated due to the fact that Benjamin is running out of money, he announces that the money had come through, and promises that he would work himself to the bone if they stuck with him. “We’re with you” is the response of the staff. Watching the movie, most of us can think of visionary leaders who gain respect and trust and increase a sense of optimism and hope in followers.

The value of teamwork is highlighted. Benjamin commits to the vision despite the challenges they face: an overcritical inspector, a depleted bank account, a diminishing morale, a disengaged teenager and a hard decision of what to do with the old tiger. This vision helps him to integrate and align others’ efforts. Family and staff members work diligently to rebuild this rundown zoo so that the animals will be saved and the public can once again enjoy the beautiful grounds that house so many animals. If they try hard enough, they can even beat the tough inspector who wants their zoo to fail; they all have the same enemy. The team celebrates small successes, something that contributes toward improving morale and increasing productivity.

Inspiration from the movie
“You know, sometimes all you need is twenty seconds of insane courage. Just literally twenty seconds of just embarrassing bravery. And I promise you, something great will come of it.” (Benjamin Mee)

Contributed by: Elena Hanna