Filmmakers pleased with beasts' cooperation

A feeling of good fortune pervaded the premises at Sunday’s premiere of Warner Bros./Imax’ “Born to Be Wild 3D” at the California Science Center.

“We were so lucky to get the shots we did, particularly of the orphaned baby elephant getting rescued in Kenya,” producer Drew Fellman said at the post-screening bash. “You sometime go days without getting any footage. So this was totally unplanned but it really sums up the film that I wanted to make.”

Fellman came up with the idea of a film about orphaned orangutans on a 1994 hiking trip through Borneo, when he met the mother of one of the orangutans at Birute Galdikas’ Camp Leakey. The Borneo shoot included the apes — who are being taught to re-integrate into the wild — stealing on one of the boats and vandalizing the makeshift shower.

“They orang-utanize everything,” Fellman noted.

Galdikas viewed the finished film with mixed emotions. “I’m glad that we’re doing something that can bring attention to the fact that orangutans are in danger of extinction.”

Daphne Sheldrick, who’s worked with Kenyan elephants since 1955, credited Fellman and director David Lickley with capturing the reality of day-to-day life with the pachyderms. “The film showed that elephants don’t do anything unless they want to do it,” she said.

Sheldrick’s set to attend promo events in Washington, D.C., and New York City but expects to return to Kenya by Saturday.

“I never stay away for long,” she added. “My daughter’s helping me navigate the concrete jungle. I don’t do well in cities but this was important.”

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