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SAMSON—This legendary lion and turtle-curling champion is the "mane attraction” at the New York Zoo and loves to regale his zoo-mates and teenage son, Ryan, with hair-raising stories about his days in the wild. But beneath these tales of magnificent bravery lies the real truth: that Samson has never set a paw inside a real jungle in his entire life. With a heart of gold, and a genuine love for his son, Samson lives up to his roaring reputation when he ventures beyond his familiar territory and leads his friends on the journey of a lifetime to rescue Ryan. Kiefer Sutherland, the superstar of TV's hit series "24,” adds humor, emotion, and entertainment to the voice of this parent whose pride is showing.

BENNY—Samson's best friend and moral sounding board is a street-savvy New York squirrel. Despite his puny size, Benny is a big thinker when it comes to love, and he certainly has a tall order when he sets his sights on a 12-foot giraffe named Bridget. Benny is a loyal friend and remains steadfastly by Samson's side no matter how tough the situation. Comedian/actor Jim Belushi, star of the popular sitcom "According to Jim,” lends his comic timing to this nutty character.

RYAN—Samson's rebellious teenage son is bored with zoo life and living in the shadow of his famous father. Longing for the excitement of the untamed jungle that Samson is always boasting about, and looking to find his roar, Ryan sets out to experience wildlife for himself. When he escapes from the zoo, he sets into motion a wild adventure that turns the animal kingdom on its ear. Greg Cipes, a popular stage, screen, and television performer, is heard as the voice of this antsy adolescent who decides to take a walk on the wild side.

NIGEL—Beneath the cute and cuddly exterior of the zoo's merchandise megastar is a tormented fellow with an acerbic wit. Tired of his reputation and the abuse he gets from his zoo-mates, Nigel longs to escape his cute image encouraged by his teddy-bear likeness. A whole new life awaits this unsuspecting koala when he discovers that he has been chosen to lead the wildebeests as "The Great Him.” Acclaimed British comedian/actor Eddie Izzard cracks wise as this reluctant ruler.

BRIDGET—Quick-witted and fiercely independent, this graceful giraffe lends invaluable help to Samson and the rest of the animal rescue team with her towering height and persistent pragmatism. Not only does she have to cope with the physical demands of the concrete jungle, but she also has to fend off the advances of her amorous eight-inch-tall squirrel suitor, Benny. Actress/comedienne Janeane Garofalo reaches for the heights with her delightful vocal performance as Bridget.

KAZAR—The fanatic leader of a cult of wildebeests who want to be the hunters rather than the hunted, Kazar finds himself dancing to the beat of a different drummer as he makes his move to the top of the food chain. A darn good choreographer in his own right, this beastly character rules with an iron hoof and pins all his hopes on the arrival of "The Great Him.” Popular actor William Shatner lends his vocal talents to this hilarious character.

LARRY—This 21-foot-long anaconda lays claim to having the greatest length of any animal in the zoo, but he's a bit short when it comes to common sense. Always flexible and willing to pitch in, Larry comes in handy throughout the adventure as a pulley, a pole, a steering wheel, and a slingshot capable of firing a lion a considerable distance. Versatile actor/stage performer Richard Kind ("The Producers”) hits all the right notes as the voice of this agreeable anaconda.

BLAG—Kazar's clumsy wildebeest aide-de-camp is a gigantic brute who secretly harbors resentment for his boss. Patrick Warburton ("The Emperor's New Groove,” "Seinfeld”) lends his distinctive comic tone to this colo


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