Aardman ‘Life in Lockdown’ animation captures pandemic fears

A new animated short uses the struggles of people in lockdown to raise awareness of wild animals in captivity.

Aardman Animations and Engine have made Creature Discomforts: Life in Lockdown for the Born Free Foundation.

The film puts everyday conversations into the mouths of animals including an orang-utan, lemurs and an orca.

Director Peter Peake said he hopes the “endearing” characters will help people relate to the cause.

‘Heartbreaking’ loneliness

The film uses the format of Aardman’s popular Creature Comforts series with dialogue from interviews on the subject of lockdown and living conditions recorded in Bristol, Manchester and London.

The animals are not Aardman’s usual claymation because of coronavirus restrictions, so the film is made in 2D.

Mr Peake, who also designed the characters, said the team called on “friends and family with interesting voices – people who won’t shut up”.

“None of them are actors so what they say is coming from the heart.

“When we heard 89-year-old grandmother Doreen (the voice of the elephant in the circus) talking about being lonely, it was heartbreaking and we couldn’t have scripted anything better than that.”

Another character, a mother lemur, is Mr Peake’s friend Rosaria who had just moved with her young daughter to the UK from Rio, just before lockdown.

“She was an ideal candidate as she had left wonderful surroundings and was dropped into a really small flat with one window,” he said.

The Born Free Foundation hopes people watching the film will find empathy with the characters.

Lion farming tackled

Dr Chris Draper, head of animal welfare and captivity for Born Free, said: “Many of us will have suffered the restrictions and inconvenience of lockdown.

“This (film) has given us just a brief insight into the frustrations and compromise that wild animals in captivity face for their entire lives.”

In 2019, Born Free and ENGINE released The Bitter Bond, a film to raise awareness of the lion farming in South Africa.

It was viewed more than 11m times and attracted 250,000 petition signatures, resulting in the South African Tourism Services Association withdrawing support for any interactions between tourists and wild animals, such as lion cub petting.

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