My Wild Kingdom

As a little kid, I remember looking forward to Sunday nights. That was the one night each week when my family ate dinner in front of the TV and watched Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom.

For lots of families these days, that is not unusual, but in the early 1970’s, eating in the living room was rare.

Making those nights even more special, Mom would let my brother and me (and my sister, once she came along) have a small Tupperware tumbler of Dr. Pepper, and Dad would share his Doritos with us. Again, this is now commonplace, but back then, not so much.

Unlike many of today’s shows on Animal Planet, these were films about families—of animals. Hosted by Marlin Perkins, the narration helped the audience see the world through the wild eyes of the tigers, monkeys, or hyenas we watched. We laughed as they played together, we worried when the cubs wandered too far from their momma, and we cringed as the bunnies lost the race against the wolves.

I loved seeing the different places around the world—habitats for beautiful creatures I would never otherwise see. I enjoyed the fact that these animals had a place in my home and a voice I could hear. They fueled my imagination.

Even today, I can hear my cats mutter with frustration when I don’t feed them quickly enough. They often glare at me when I vacuum, and talk behind my back after I’ve straightened the throw pillows. I’m quite certain they move things around in my house while I’m gone and then laugh when I can’t find said items. I also suspect that my older cat, Poe, tries on my shoes when I’m at work.

My boys think it’s all in my mind, but I know better. I grew up watching these shows!

That’s the reason I’m thrilled that Disney’s African Cats comes to theatres this week! The previews and posters make me smile every time I see them. I’ll be in line this weekend, with popcorn in hand, and my cats will be sitting at home, very jealous!

That’s a wrap for this Toast to Cinema! Thanks for reading!

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