An Irish lad named Tom (Art Parkinson of “Game of Thrones”) tries to save a baby elephant at an Irish zoo during World War II in “Zoo.” He bonds with the animal named Buster, then fights to keep him alive during the 1941 air raids on Belfast.
It’s based on the true story of Denise Austin (played by Penelope Wilton), who was known as the “elephant angel,” because she secretly harbored the elephant in her house to protect it from the devastating Luftwaffe bombings.
According to Irish News, Denise was able to keep Sheila (the real elephant) hidden in her yard each night, thanks to its high walls. She would then return it to the zoo each morning.
Although the hero of the real story was Ms. Austin, in the film, three children, including 12-year-old Tom, save the elephant and take it to her for safekeeping.
Tom vows to save the elephant after several other wild animals are shot after escaping from the bombed-out zoo. Animal death alert: According to the Belfast Telegraph, 6 wolves, two polar bears, a hyena, tiger, puma, and a black bear were among those killed by soldiers in real life. The trailer hints that Tom witnesses at least one of these shootings, emboldening him to save the elephant.
The movie is billed as a family film and promises a happier ending than the similar “Zookeeper’s Wife.”
The Irish News reports that, although the movie shot on location in Belfast, no elephant was seen by the locals. Buster will apparently (at least in certain scenes) be provided via computer graphics.
The movie is set to be released June 8 by Samuel Goldwyn Films.