I’m blogging from the “happiest place on earth” Disney World! Earlier today, I had the opportunity to sit down with Disneynature Ambassador Dr. M. Sanjayan at the beautiful Sanaa restaurant located at Animal Kingdom Villas – Kidani Village. We dined on a delicious four course East African-inspired cuisine including slow-cooked meats, Indian-style bread, refreshing salads, and much more.
Dr. M. Sanjayan is executive vice president and senior scientist for Conservation International. His peer-reviewed scientific work has been published in journals including Science, Nature and Conservation Biology, and his expertise has attracted national media coverage in Outside, Time, Men’s Journal, National Geographic, AFAR, Grist and The New York Times. During our chat we discussed his role in the upcoming Disneynature film Monkey Kingdom, which he mentions is such a compelling story that it will be really hard to top this great film.
Dr. M. Sanjayan Interview
He shares that originally they went with the expectation of filming more of a Jungle Book style film, but quickly found themselves fascinated with the monkey storyline. The crew spent over 1000 days filming in Sri Lanka – that’s nearly 3 years!
He asked us what we thought the audience will enjoy most about the film, and we all agreed that relating to Maya and her maternal instincts was a big pull for us. We also thought Tina Fey did an excellent job narrating the film by sharing heartwarming commentary and funny jokes all at the same time.
Since the storyline focused on Maya and her son Kip, we asked Dr. M. Sanjayan if the crew would have intervened at any point to help Kip from a predator, like cheetahs. He answered saying he wouldn’t know for sure, but that his instincts were “probably not”. Thankfully the story has a happy ending, however there were definitely questionable moments in the film.
Kumar, which is Kip’s father, is quite entertaining in the film. He really wants to get Maya’s attention during mating season and goes above and beyond to seek her out. I did ask the Dr whether that was a normal behavior trait for the male monkeys and he said yes, but Kumar does that “call” extraordinarily.
We also inquired whether there will be a follow-up to the film – we all want to know how Maya, Kip and Kumar are doing! He thinks adding an update during the release of Monkey Kingdom to DVD is something they could definitely do and he’s considering it.
Dr. M. Sanjayan is so incredibly knowledgeable and devoted to making a difference for nature and its animals.
The great Dr even turned the camera back on us – snapping this group picture of us leaving Animal Kingdom Lodge:
— M Sanjayan (@msanjayan) April 15, 2015
Don’t forget to take the entire family opening week to see Monkey Kingdom (April 17-23). For every ticket sold during that time, Disneynature will make a donation in your honor to protect monkeys and other endangered species in their natural habitats.