Needs More Examples
This trope occurs when an animal raised in a zoo, household, or farm environment suddenly finds itself in its "natural" environment and is expected to survive. Naturally, this presents some difficulties for the poor critter, as it never learned basic survival skills from its parents.
This is a common problem with the animals raised in captive breeding
programs: they haven't learned to be scared of their natural predators, they might not know how to find food, and due to imprinting
, they may have the indelible misapprehension that they're supposed to mate with humans rather than their own species
. Zoos are getting better at this but it's still hard.
This Trope is sometimes Truth in Television
, as if a zoo is going to rehabilitate their animals, they usually provide environments that allow the animals to practice survival skills prior to their release, so it's logical that an animal who lacked that kind of training would struggle.
of Fish out of Water
, often the result of Pet Baby, Wild Animal
- In Rio, Blu is a domesticated blue macaw, and spends the middle of the film chained (by smugglers) to Jewel, a wild blue macaw. Blu finds the jungles outside the city to be particularly frightening, mainly because of his inability to fly (though most of the film takes place in the city, where Blu is not entirely so helpless).
- Madagascar is about captive raised animals trying to make it back to their homeland. When they get there things do not go well. For example, the lion is horrified to learn that he will need to eat the relatives of his friends to survive.
- In Open Season, Boog is ordered released into the wild after being suspected of causing mayhem in town.
- There's also The Wild, which is basically Madagascar meets Finding Nemo.
- Two Brothers has a pair of tiger cubs that are made pets after their mother is killed. When they break free, the characters express the fear that they may end up becoming man-eaters because they never learned to hunt.
- The Disney Channel made-for-TV movie Cheetah: The Hunted was about a domesticated cheetah that had to be trained to live in the wild.
- Averted with Bagheera in Rudyard Kipling's original Jungle Book. He was raised in the Maharajah's menagerie but had no trouble adapting to jungle life after his escape.
- Robert A. Heinlein made mention of this trope at least once. Lazarus Long told an anecdote about a fox he raised from a kit and tried to release into the wild; it never even left its cage and nearly starved to death.
- White Fang: Inverted. A wild wolf-dog learns to be a pet. The normal dogs treat him poorly because they can smell he's apart wolf and he does not adapt well. He is then sold off and forced into illegal dog fighting until he almost dies.
- The Call of the Wild: Adverted. A Labrador Retriever learns to hunt and survive among wolves. He actually does OK once he gets the hang of things.
- Inverted with General Woundwort of Watership Down, who was taken in by a kindly human after his mother's death. Growing up apart from other rabbits, and getting hassled by the dog when his rescuer's back was turned, actually made him far tougher than any wild-reared rabbit could be expected to become, ready and able to fight off predators.
Truth in Television
- In one episode of The Wild Thornberrys Darwin ends up leaving Eliza and escaping into the jungle, but ends up faring quite badly after his years living among humans.
- Christian the Lion is a real life inversion. He was raised as a pet in London during the 1960's. When he grew too large to live in the city, he was taken to a wildlife preserve where he adapted very quickly becoming the leader of his very own pride.