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Judy Hopps is a young bunny growing up in Bunnyburrow. She enthusiastically performs in a school play that re-enacts the history of their home. Once, predator’s attacked prey, but animals have since evolved. Now, prey no longer fear predators. They live together in peace, and anyone can grow up to be whatever they want to be. Judy wants to be a police officer. However, even though the theory of the town is complete equality, no one really believes that a little bunny could ever be tough enough to be a police officer. Not being one to give up on her dream, she enters the police academy anyway. In the beginning, she has an extremely rough time, since her size is against her. However, she begins to realize that bunnys have talents that other animals lack, and she uses these skills to finish her training at the top of her class. Mayor Lionheart (a lion) and Assistant Mayor Bellwether (a sheep) are excited to be gaining their very first bunny police officer. Bellwether tries especially hard to congratulate Judy, being fellow prey, but she is consistently pushed aside by Lionheart. Very excitedly, Judy leaves Bunnyburrow and her family’s carrot farm behind to begin her new career in the great city of Zootopia. Her first day on the job, though, is anything but glamorous. Her fellow officers, especially Chief Bogo, don’t take her seriously as they go off on their assignments to find the city’s 14 missing mammals. Judy is assigned parking duty. She is determined to prove herself as exceptional, so she uses her sensitive hearing to know when the meters expire, then speedily tickets each car, achieving double her daily quota by noon. Through a strange series of events, she ends up with a very unlikely partner on the hunt to find the truth about 14 missing mammals, and a terrible plot that threatens all of those in Zootopia.
This movie beautifully illustrates the problems of discrimination. It shows how it begins in children. Kids can sometimes reject other kids who differ from the rest of the group. This is how bullying often begins. Discrimination can also be seen in the adult-child relationship when an adult tells a child that they cannot accomplish a particular goal simply because of a group that they were born into. Discrimination is even more difficult to let go of in adulthood.
People use their own talents to do whatever it is that is important to them. Sometimes people are capable of what you least expect from them, and anyone who works hard towards a goal deserves respect. Just because people seem different on the outside does not mean that they don’t have anything in common. Once we get past our preconceived notions and really get to know other people, we may find that it is not only possible to work together as a team, but to form lasting friendships as well.
Don’t let other people tell you who you are. You are who YOU decide to be.
(If you have additional ideas on how this film can be used for educational purposes, please let us know in the comments below.)
Young Nick: (happily undergoing Junior Ranger Scout initiation by flashlight) I – Nicholas Wilde – promise to be brave, loyal, helpful, and trustworthy!
Junior Ranger Scout 1: Even though… you’re a fox?
Young Nick: (his smile fades) What?
(Flashlight goes out and Nick is tackled to the ground)
Young Nick: No! NO! What did I do wrong, you guys? Help! Please, what did I do wrong? What did I do? (a muzzle is forced onto him) NO!
Junior Ranger Scout 1: You thought we could ever trust a fox without a muzzle? You’re even dumber than you look!
(Nick rushes outside and hides behind the steps of the building)
Junior Ranger Scout 2: (from inside) Aww, is he gonna cry?
(Nick struggles to remove the muzzle, finally succeeding and throwing it away from him, struggling to hold back his tears)
Nick Wilde: (after Nick relates his story to Judy) I learned two things that day: one, that I was never going to let anyone see that they got to me.
Judy Hopps: And… two?
Nick Wilde: That if the world’s only going to see a fox as shifty and untrustworthy, there’s no point in being anything else.
Judy Hopps: (places her paw on Nick’s arm) Nick, you are so much more than that.
Gazelle: Zootopia is a unique place. It’s a crazy, beautiful, diverse city, where we celebrate our differences. This is not the Zootopia I know. The Zootopia I know is better than this. We don’t just blindly assign blame. We don’t know why these attacks keep happening. But it is irresponsible to label all predators as savages. We cannot let fear divide us. Please, give me back the Zootopia I love.
Judy Hopps: Wait, uh, wait – listen! I – I know you’ll never forgive me! And I don’t blame you. I wouldn’t forgive me either. I was ignorant, and… irresponsible… and small-minded. But predators shouldn’t suffer because of my mistakes. I have to fix this.
[Her voice shakes]
Judy Hopps: But I can’t do it without you.
[Nick still refuses to turn around]
Judy Hopps: [Judy begins to cry] And… and after we’re done, you can hate me, and that’ll be fine, because I was a horrible friend, and I hurt you. And you… and you can walk away knowing you were right all along. I really am just a dumb bunny.
[Everything becomes silent, until Nick replays Judy’s words with her carrot pen]
Judy Hopps: [through carrot pen, unseen] “I really am just a dumb bunny.”
Judy Hopps: [Nick holds up the pen] “I really am just a dumb bunny.”
Nick Wilde: [Nick turns around] Don’t worry, Carrots. I’ll let you erase it… in forty-eight hours.
[Judy smiles at Nick, laughing and wiping away tears]
Judy Hopps: I thought this city would be a perfect place where everyone got along and anyone could be anything. Turns out, life’s a little bit more complicated than a slogan on a bumper sticker. Real life is messy. We all have limitations. We all make mistakes. Which means, hey, glass half full, we all have a lot in common. And the more we try to understand one another, the more exceptional each of us will be. But we have to try. So no matter what kind of person you are, I implore you: Try. Try to make the world a better place. Look inside yourself and recognize that change starts with you.