Disney nature doc ‘Born in China' is a gorgeous theatrical treat for Earth Day

The snow leopard family from Disneynature's film, "Born in China.
The snow leopard family from Disneynature's film, "Born in China. TNS

Parents need to know that “Born in China” is a fascinating nature documentary. Narrated by John Krasinski, it follows a rarely seen snow leopard fighting to feed her young in one of the harshest environments on earth, a golden monkey struggling after being cast out by his family, and a doting giant panda helping her cub become independent. While it’s family friendly overall and promotes messages related to courage and family, there are scenes of animals in peril and fighting for survival and death that could be scary for very little or sensitive kids. The harsh realities of living in the wild include seeing a baby monkey being swept up by a hawk, animals viciously attacking each other, the death of an animal mother. But older kids and parents will likely be interested in seeing this remote part of the world and its inhabitants.


In “Born in China,” director Chuan Lu takes viewers on an epic journey through some of the country’s most remote areas. Viewers meet three animal families: snow leopards, golden monkeys, and giant pandas. On the wings of the red-crowned crane – and accompanied by narration supplied by John Krasinski – this beautiful Disneynature documentary captures moments and places not seen before on film.


This documentary is a visually stunning look at areas of China that most of us will never see. That includes the Qinghai Province on the northeast rim of the Tibetan plateau at 5,000 meters above sea level, where a snow leopard struggles to stay alive and feed her young. This stark, dangerous place is juxtaposed with the Wolong Nature Reserve in the Si Chuan province in Central China, where endangered giant pandas live. The dynamics of the animal families are played out for dramatic effect and will definitely tug at a few heartstrings, while keeping you enthralled by the animals’ daily struggle.

Some of Krasinski’s narration applies mild stereotypes to the animals’ behavior – including calling a panda a “helicopter mom” and a monkey a “kung fu master.” But families interested in wildlife and animals will enjoy this fascinating look at what it takes to survive. That said, there’s no mention of the devastating environmental impact that pollution has had in other parts of China, or anything at all about the country’s relationship to the natural world. Still, taken as a glimpse of these particular areas of the country, “Born in China” will entertain the entire family.

‘Born in China’

Director: Chuan Lu

Genre: Documentary

Running time: 76 minutes

Rating: G