Chatting with Jane Goodall, 'Bears' review

Kidsday reporters Kevin Ra, Sam Petruzzi, Sophia Theodorellis

Kidsday reporters Kevin Ra, Sam Petruzzi, Sophia Theodorellis and Gianna Pellechia, ages 13 and 14, from Commack and East Northport with Jane Goodall at Buca di Beppo in Manhattan. (April 15, 2014) (Credit: Newsday / Jeffrey Basinger)

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We went to an advance screening of the movie "Bears" by Disneynature. The story revolves around a family of bears who have just awaked from hibernation and are trying to survive until the next one.

Viewers join Sky and her two newborn cubs, Scout and Amber, on their trek through Alaska in an attempt to find spawning salmon.

On their journey, the bears must face avalanches, starvation, rival bears and predators. Sky shows us all what it means to be a mother through her constant defense of her cubs.

This is a new type of documentary, one for all ages and all people. It is filled with upbeat music and the bears' hilarious antics. Kidsday reporter Gianna says, "It takes you on an adventure while you sit on your couch." Kidsday reporter Kevin says, "It gives you a new perspective on the life of animals."

You should see the movie this weekend. Disneynature is donating a portion of the movie's opening-week ticket sales to the National Park Foundation.

Rating: 4 smiles

After seeing the movie, we walked over to Buca di Beppo restaurant in Manhattan to meet Jane Goodall. She talked to us about the film and also her work studying chimpanzees in Gombe, Tanzania. Here is part of our conversation with her:

We read that all species of bears have the potential of going extinct.

They can all go extinct if we don't change attitudes, and we need to start thinking differently, behaving differently. We have to ask ourselves: Well, it's all very well to have unlimited economic development, but if that's destroying the environment and the animals, what's that going to mean to your great grandchildren? We have to start thinking that we're part of the whole, we're destroying the whole. Wouldn't be good for us.

Do you think there are any similarities between bears and chimpanzees?

They're similar in that they have very vivid personalities. They're similar in that the young ones are very playful and have lots of fun. They're similar in that both are intelligent in slightly different ways. They're similar in that both are omnivores meaning they eat plants and animals, berries, and insects. And they're similar with their mother's protection of their young.

Being an anthropologist and primatologist, what is the biggest similarity between humans and primates?

The intellect.

Is the way humans interact with animals different now from when you performed your studies, and what has changed?

What has changed is that people are more aware. When I began, I was told by science that we were the only beings with personalities, minds, emotions. And because of the chimps, they're so like us, more people accepted the fact that we're not the only beings with personalities, minds and feelings after all. So if there isn't a sharp line between us and the rest of the animal kingdom, we are part of them and separated from the rest of the animal kingdom. So it teaches a little bit of humility.

When you first began your study, what were your biggest worries, and did they go away at the end?

My biggest worry was that I wouldn't find out something interesting before the money ran out. We only had money for six months, and because the chimpanzees ran away, and there's just weeks and months, I was getting more and more concerned.

With chimpanzees being our closest relatives, what can humans learn from them?

We learn about where we came from, how we got to be the creatures that we are today. But because they're more like us than any other creature, that means we put [them] on a platform to stand on and say, 'OK, that's the closest thing there is.' Biologically they're almost the same in many ways. So what makes us different. I think it's the human intellect, explosive development of the human intellect. So being the most intellectual beings to ever walk on the planet. Isn't it weird that we're destroying our only hope so fast?

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