Created By: PapercutChainsaw on October 3, 2011 Last Edited By: Arivne on April 29, 2016

Raised In Captivity

An animal raised by humans struggles to survive in the wild.

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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.

Sub-Trope of Fish out of Water, often the result of Pet Baby Wild Animal.


Examples

Film - Animated
  • 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 - ZCE

Film - Live Action
  • 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.

Literature
  • 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's Time Enough for Love. 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.
  • Jack London's two most famous novels:
    • White Fang: Inverted. A wild wolf-dog learns to be a pet. The normal dogs treat him poorly because they can smell he's part 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: Averted. A dog who grew up on a manor in California is taken to the Yukon and made a sled dog, forced to fight the other dogs for survival. Later he starts hunting and takes over a wolf pack.
  • 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.

Live-Action TV
  • In one episode of The Wild Thornberrys Darwin leaves Eliza and escapes into the jungle, but ends up faring quite badly after his years living among humans.

Truth in Television
  • 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.

Community Feedback Replies: 59
  • October 3, 2011
    randomsurfer
    The central premise of Madagascar.
  • October 4, 2011
    Andygal
    Blu from Rio
  • October 4, 2011
    Arivne
    Sometimes the result of a Shoo The Dog situation.
  • October 4, 2011
    IuraCivium
    Does Finding Nemo count as an inversion?
  • October 4, 2011
    FrodoGoofballCoTV
    In Open Season, Boog is ordered released into the wild after being suspected of causing mayhem in town.
  • October 5, 2011
    PapercutChainsaw
    ^^ I'd say the inversion (wild animal unwillingly taken as pet) is probably common enough to be a separate trope.
  • October 5, 2011
    SKJAM
    Born Free is all about trying to rehabilitate such an animal to the wild. "Born free, as free as the wind blows..."
  • October 5, 2011
    TrustBen
    Buck in The Call Of The Wild goes from pet to sled-dog to (briefly) pet again before going feral and joining a pack of wolves.
  • October 5, 2011
    Auxdarastrix
    See also Pet Baby Wild Animal

    Also under Film
    • Two Brothers has a pair of tiger cubs that are made pets after their father 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.
  • October 5, 2011
    lamoxlamae
    • 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.
  • October 5, 2011
    elwoz
    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.
  • October 6, 2011
    WackyMeetsPractical
    There's also The Wild, which is basically Madagascar meets Finding Nemo.
  • October 6, 2011
    Andygal
    Blu is not a parrot, he's a macaw.
  • October 6, 2011
    Darthcaliber
    ^a macaw is a type of parrot

  • October 7, 2011
    ClockStopping
    I vaguely remember an episode of The Wild Thornberrys where Darwin ends up leaving Eliza and escaping into the jungle, but ends up faring quite badly after his years living with them. It's been years since I've watched the series, though, so someone more familiar would know better.
  • October 9, 2011
    HiddenFacedMatt
    NVM, mentioned something that was already in the description.
  • October 10, 2011
    LeeM
    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.
  • October 10, 2011
    surgoshan
    • 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.
  • October 10, 2011
    TBTabby
    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.
  • November 18, 2011
    Caveat
    Please read our pages for White Fang & The Call Of The Wild.
  • November 19, 2011
    Prfnoff
    What do you mean, Caveat?
  • November 19, 2011
    Stratadrake
    White Fang and The Call Of The Wild are works which would need listing as examples of the trope. BTW, some of the examples will need explaining further.

    • 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).
  • November 27, 2011
    Prfnoff
    Some examples are being labeled as averted or "adverted," but I don't see why.
  • December 5, 2011
    elwoz
    Paragraphs two and three of the description are saying the same thing in two different ways. I suggest deleting paragraph three (of course, I would say that, I wrote paragraph two ;-)
  • December 22, 2012
    SparkyLurkdragon
    I wonder if the inversion of this, a Raised In Captivity creature escaping/being released and doing just fine, is a trope?

    If it isn't, have two more inversions.

    • General Woundwart from Watership Down is a wild rabbit who was raised by humans. He eventually escapes and proceeds to become a ruthless rabbit dictator among the other wild rabbits.
    • In The Fox And The Hound, Tod the fox's family is killed by hunters when he's just a kit. One of them takes pity on him and adopts him, and even runs more-or-less harmless experiments on him to compare his skills to a puppy he's being raised with. Tod eventually leaves the cushy domestic life and goes on to do just fine in the wild, eventually becoming the last of the wild foxes as suburbia destroys the forest.
  • December 22, 2012
    chicagomel
    That's the book obviously...in the movie,the widow adopts him and then releases him when he's an adult and Slade wants him dead.
  • January 23, 2016
    captainmarkle
    Film
    • In the film adaptation of Harry Potter And The Philosophers Stone, Harry chats with a snake (not knowing that he can speak Parseltongue) and asks if he knew his parents. The snake sadly gestures towards a sign that says "raised in captivity", and Harry sympathises with the creature as he didn't know his parents either. He accidentally lets the snake go due to Power Incontinence from magical powers he didn't know he possessed, meaning that it gets to go free. It thanks him before it leaves the reptile house, scaring the crap out of several bystanders.
  • January 23, 2016
    DAN004
    Title is misleading if this is when the characters are free.
  • January 23, 2016
    StarSword
    Film Animated:
  • January 23, 2016
    DAN004
  • January 23, 2016
    captainmarkle
    ^ The idea's not bad. I'm hesitant to term anything "gone wild", though; maybe it's just me. What about "Domesticated Animal Goes Into The Wild"? It's not the catchiest title admittedly, but it gets to the point.
  • January 23, 2016
    Koveras
    Does it have to be animals? How about individuals of sentient species being raised among captors of a different species. For instance, Thrall from Warcraft III—an orc who was taken away from his tribe as a baby and raised by humans who defeated them.
  • January 23, 2016
    Snicka
    If it's about escaped animal characters finding it difficult to fit in in the wild, then my above Harry Potter example doesn't count. The Wild example needs more context.
  • January 23, 2016
    captainmarkle
    ^^ That might be a case of Interspecies Adoption.
  • January 23, 2016
    MetaFour
    • Mystery Science Theater 3000: In Pod People, the boy Tommy hatches and raises an alien, who he names Trumpy. At the end, Tommy figures out he can't keep the alien anymore, so he sets Trumpy loose in the forest.
      Crow: (as Trumpy) No, I was raised by humans! I can't survive in the wild!
  • January 23, 2016
    oneuglybunny
    Webcomics
    • Zigzagged with Randy from Faux Pas, a red fox raised by humans his whole life, and currently "works" as a studio animal for movies and commercials. He meets a vixen named Cindy, who tries to acclimate Randy to the wild. Randy has no survival skills; however, he's excellent at attracting vixens, who come with him back to his home on the farm.
  • January 24, 2016
    Snicka
    An addition to the Rio example:
    • Blu's inability to survive in the wild becomes a bigger plot point in the sequel, Rio 2, where he and his family travel to the Amazon.

    Also, some context to The Wild example:
    • In The Wild (which is occasionally described as Madagascar meets Finding Nemo), a lion and his friends escape from a zoo to find the lion's son, who was taken to Africa to be reintroduced to the wild, and they have to face that life out there is not as easy as in the zoo.
  • January 24, 2016
    TonyG
    Add context to Open Season:
    • In Open Season, Boog, a tamed grizzly bear raised by a park ranger, is ordered released into the wild after being suspected of causing mayhem in town.
    • Played with in the Peanuts special What A Nightmare Charlie Brown. After Snoopy refuses to play sled dog for him, Charlie Brown accuses Snoopy of being too spoiled, and reminds him that real sled dogs have it much rougher than him. Snoopy then has an Acid Reflux Nightmare that he's a sled dog, roughly handled by his master and intimidated by the other dogs in the team.
  • January 24, 2016
    Arivne

    The Wild is a Zero Context Example (and has been marked as such). It needs more specific information about how it fits the trope.
  • March 6, 2016
    Pichu-kun
    • Todd from The Fox And The Hound zigzags this trope. As an adult he is released into the forest after being raised by a human from the time he was a kit. He dislikes the wild at first but seems to have no issue finding food. He also quickly finds a mate.

    Thornberry's is mistagged. It goes under Western Animation.
  • March 6, 2016
    DAN004
    Can this trope count humans?
  • March 6, 2016
    Pichu-kun
    Doubt it. A Wild Child having trouble to adapting to human societies sounds like a different trope altogether.
  • March 6, 2016
    mariovsonic999
    Tod in The Fox and the Hound, both the book and movie, was raised in a farm until he was forced to be left into the wilderness.
  • March 6, 2016
    Pichu-kun
    • The original books for Bambi featured a deer who was raised by humans but let free. He died due to not realizing hunters were not friendly.
  • March 6, 2016
    Manticore_of_Science
    Polar opposite of Raised By Wolves.
  • March 7, 2016
    DAN004
    At least tell me what trope is this.
    • Azure Striker Gunvolt: Joule (an Adept) has been raised in Sumeragi Corp's custody for most of her life as a tool for searching Adepts in the country. After Gunvolt rescues her, she needs some time to adapt to a more normal life and it's shown in her being confused and curious at things normal people consider mundane.
  • March 7, 2016
    Snicka
    ^^^ That deer character in Bambi is called Gobo, and he was Faline's brother. (His subplot was presumably cut from the Disney movie due to being too dark).
  • March 9, 2016
    Pichu-kun

    ^^ Animal characters who are wild animals (aka not domesticated pets like ferrets or cats) who end up being released into the wild after being raised by humans most, if not all, of their life.
  • March 9, 2016
    DAN004
    ^ Sorry, my question should be "where this example fall into".
  • March 9, 2016
    Pichu-kun
    ^ They're humanoid? Probably not this trope then.
  • March 10, 2016
    DAN004
    ^ indeed.

    Now, do you know the more proper trope for that?
  • March 10, 2016
    Pichu-kun
    I know we have a Wild Child trope but that's not it.
  • March 10, 2016
    DAN004
    Gotta go to TF then.
  • April 22, 2016
    Pichu-kun
    Wouldn't Rio be considered "tamed" not "domesticated"?
  • April 23, 2016
    Aubren
    Parodied in Gravity Falls: Mabel releases a group of cloned boy-band singers out into the wild; where they survive off of garbage and sing to everything in sight.
  • April 24, 2016
    DAN004
  • April 25, 2016
    PaulA
    Parodied in an episode of Pinky And The Brain where the two eponymous lab mice are abducted and dumped in a jungle by an Animal Wrongs Group that is determined to see lab animals released into the wild but not bothered with details like knowing what an animal's natural habitat actually is.
  • April 28, 2016
    Aubren
    The Truth In Television example is a subversion, not an inversion. An inversion would be a wild animal struggling to live in captivity.
  • April 29, 2016
    Snicka
    ^ Which is also Truth In Television in many cases, there are lots of wild animals that don't tolerate captivity well...
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