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Skip the cineplex blockbusters and see these DMNS movies instead

Pandas:  The Journey Home is just of two family-friendly 3D movies showing at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science
Carrie Dow

With the start of August, summer blockbuster movie season is well under way. Unfortunately many of these movies (including Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles) are not suitable for the youngest movie watchers among us. However, the Denver Museum of Nature and Science has two incredible 3D summer movies that are perfect for movie fans of all ages.

Pandas: The Journey Home and Island of Lemurs: Madagascar are the two movies currently showing at the Phipps IMAX 3D Theater at the museum. For anyone young and old who like cute and furry creatures and also have a sense of adventure, these films will fit the bill.

Pandas: The Journey Home was filmed in Pingwu County of the Sichuan Province in the mountainous south-central region of China on the edge of the Himalayas. The film also features the famous Wolong Panda Research Center, a facility that is on the cutting edge of knowledge about these illusive creatures. Wolong has the country’s leading captive breeding program and the center’s scientists are now working on an experimental and revolutionary program to release captive-bred pandas back into the wild to repopulate this endangered species. The film, while only 45 minutes long, packs a lot of incredible information along with gorgeous cinematography in that short amount of time. The film is also shown in incredible 3D to enhance the experience. Not that long ago, the success rate of pandas born in captivity was limited. Now that rate is 95%. Most of these pandas are then “leased” to other zoos for other breeding programs and for people around the world to see these amazing creatures. The leases allow for funding for the Wolong Center to continue its ground-breaking work.

The film, created by National Geographic Movies, also follows a young panda named Tau Tau who is about to make history. He will be the released into the wild after an intensive education program. The film shows how the center, by dressing up as pandas themselves (so as not to have human interaction) and by using the scents and sounds of other pandas and the forest, work to make Tau Tau as self-sufficient as possible. Interspersed throughout the film are the most adorable images of pandas playing, eating, climbing trees and cuddling with their moms and care takers.

Island of Lemurs: Madagascar follows the evolution and survival of Madagascar’s unique Lemur species. While most people are familiar with the sillier antics of lemurs through cartoons and animated movies, this Warner Bros. film shows how lemurs became separated from the rest of Africa by landing on the island of Madagascar in the Indian Ocean. They then evolved into hundreds of diverse species. Now, however, these species are threatened by human encroachment. Narrated by Morgan Freeman, the film follows Dr. Patricia Wright and her team on a mission to ensure the survival of these unique creatures.

Consider this: The lemur is one of the planet’s oldest primates, a group of animals which includes orangutans, monkeys and us, humans. However, lemurs developed and became stranded on Madagascar millennia before monkeys evolved on the African continent so they are not our direct ancestors. Perhaps that is why they amuse and fascinate us so. They act and move in completely unique ways, like their ability to leap from tree to tree as if flying or the way they dance when on the ground. However in other ways, such as eating or playing they do seem a lot like us. The film also focuses on the incredible diversity of the species considering they only live in this one place. Beautifully shot, the film shows us lemurs from above the forest canopy as well as below using special hot air balloons.

Both films are currently being shown at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science through October 9 so there is plenty of time to see them before summer slips away. Film times for Lemurs are 10:30 AM, and 2 and 5 PM Monday through Sunday and film times for Pandas are 11:30 AM and 3 PM daily and at 7 PM on Fridays and Saturdays (Friday evening shows are part of the Summer Nights program; see website for more information). Prices are $10 for adults not members of the DMNS and $7 for members. Tickets for children and seniors range from $6 to $8 depending on membership status. Visit the DMNS website to purchase tickets and learn about other IMAX films and exhibits.

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