Disneynature’s Chimpanzee Breastfeeding Story


Breastfeeding Chimpanzee.
Photo credit: Anthrodoula

Brian and I went with the kids to see Disneynature’s Chimpanzee on opening day.  It’s really no surprise that we loved it. We knew it was going to show the story of a dominant male adopting an orphaned chimp (which was truly beautiful). What surprised me was how eloquently the documentary covered the topic of breastfeeding. Oscar, the three-year-old chimpanzee, was shown breastfeeding with his mother throughout the day. The narrator explained that Oscar eats solid food, but is not nearly to the age of weaning. It showed Oscar’s mother grooming and giving physical affection to her son while she breastfed him. It was eerily similar to when I breastfeed Aram. It will be clearly humanistic gestures like this that will move audiences to help save this species.


a still picture from Disneynature’s Chimpanzee

I think this movie is going to be beneficial in the fight to normalize breastfeeding. When children are exposed to positive associations with breastfeeding (even chimpanzees and other animals breastfeeding) it no doubt will help form a positive long-term connection.

This movie may also give some food for thought to adults about the normalcy of extended breastfeeding. Chimpanzees are our closest living primate relatives, sharing 98% of the same DNA sequence as a human. Chimpanzees breastfeed their young to the age of four to six years. Humans should take into account these numbers for what is a biologically normal time to wean. For example, a chimpanzee will breastfeed six times longer than they gestated. Gorillas breastfeed 6.4 times longer than gestation. That would mean the average time of weaning for a human being would be 4.5 years.

Hopefully, this information with help people realize that breastfeeding past the WHO or the CDC’s  recommended one or two years should not be the end-all decision in each family. Really, the fact that the recommendation is constantly becoming longer should make people think. Understand that breastfeeding for four years may not be necessary for survival, but it certainly should be a globally accepted option.

Bonus: During opening week, Disneynature made donations to the Jane Goodall Institute through the Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund in order to protect chimpanzees and their habitats now and into the future.

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  1. Jen 23 April, 2012, 07:33

    Hey Jamie! I’m so glad I found your blog! I’ve kind been pouring over all of your entries. My husband and I are planning to adopt and I had NO IDEA adoptive breastfeeding was an option for me as I’ve never been pregnant/given birth/lactated ever. The breastfeeding advocacy really rubbed off on me from my breastfeeding crazy mother so this is really exciting.

    And to the point of this post, the trailer for this movie made me cry too! I can’t wait to see it!

    motu viget

    Reply this comment
    • Jamie Lynne Author 24 April, 2012, 00:31

      Hey Jen! Oh wow! Thank you so much!
      If you are willing to take on this task, breastfeeding is DEFINITELY a possibility for you, even if you’ve never lactated before.

      Did you see my post on Jenny? She is AMAZING…If you need any information or hear from the experiences please let me know and i’ll pass along her email to you!

      Reply this comment
      • Jen 26 April, 2012, 00:57

        I did see it! I’ll keep it in mind for when the time comes. My husband and I currently live in Japan, so I’m doing plenty of research but can’t start adoption procedures until we’re settled back in the U.S. It’s fun to dream and plan though :)

        Reply this comment
  2. Aracely 23 April, 2012, 08:36

    Jamie great post! We watched the movie Friday night and I loved that they showed Oscar breastfeeding and showed how it is a natural part of life. We loved the movie. Glad your family enjoyed it also!

    Reply this comment
    • Jamie Lynne Author 24 April, 2012, 00:32

      Hey Aracely! They did a fabulous job with the movie! I love how they showed everything as natural…even the “evil” opposing chimps weren’t over villianized……okay, maybe a little bit….but every Disney movie needs a villian!

      Reply this comment
  3. Jennifer 23 April, 2012, 11:40

    It’s interesting to read what different people get out of this movie. …I haven’t seen it, yet, but my mother-in-law took my younger daughter to see it over the weekend. My daughter said that she loved the movie but “it was weird, Mom, like every grown-up in the theater was crying. ” :)

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    • Jamie Lynne Author 24 April, 2012, 00:33

      HAHA I love how they did this movie. They made it heart warming, but not over-the-top emotional so the kids could totally learn and enjoy it without freaking out. The story could have easily been made too sad.

      Reply this comment
  4. Shelby Barone 23 April, 2012, 18:26

    What a great perspective on the movie..and so true!

    Reply this comment
  5. Caryn B 24 April, 2012, 10:54

    What is interesting is that I thought a lot about their breast feeding relationship, particularly the second time around. I love how it was openly depicted as natural

    Reply this comment
  6. kelly 24 April, 2012, 21:37

    now i’m even more excited to see this movie!

    Reply this comment
  7. Jenn-O 9 June, 2012, 23:38

    We’ve been trying to think of a movie to show during World Breastfeeding Week. 2 years ago we watched the documentary “Babies”. This might be a good one if we can get it! I didn’t realize chimps nursed for that long.

    Reply this comment
  8. Heather 10 June, 2012, 02:32

    Hi Jamie,

    I was at the zoo last week with my nearly 2 year old and 4 month old daughters and we’d sat down for some morning tea watching the chimps. I was breastfeeding my four month old and realised the 2 year old chimp was having a cuddle and a feed from his mum too. It was really neat, I was watching her, she was watching me. A little moment of inter-species mum bonding.

    Reply this comment
  9. Michelle 5 May, 2013, 02:53

    Thank you for such a lovely post. My husband and I saw this movie with our daughter, who is three years old and nursing. I’ll never forget when she watched that scene and exclaimed, “Look Mommy! Oscar gets drinkies too!”

    Reply this comment

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