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Fridge Brilliance / Zootopia

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  • The zoologically minded may find it grating to keep seeing foxes and bears being threatened with "going feral" on account of them being predators - what with neither actually being an obligate carnivore in real life (both foxes and bears are omnivorous, and the former may, out of necessity, even live for long periods of time on nothing but vegetable matter). This is actually foreshadowing that the Hate Plague has nothing to do with an animal's natural diet and is made of a toxin that would've turned anyone, even a herbivore, "savage".
    • Also, it could be a sign that the prejudice against predators is just that bad that it extends to animals that aren't exclusively herbivores. (This is slightly Fridge Horror, though, arguably...)
    • There's also the fact that some "prey" animals, including rabbits, are not actually exclusive herbivores in real life; rabbits have been known to not only eat carrion but also cannibalize their own dead, making the point that categories we make are often way too narrow.
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    • Note that the word "carnivore" is never actually used in the film. The distinction is very plainly not "creature whose wild ancestors ate meat", but "creature whose wild ancestors killed things to eat them". In that sense, pure scavengers would be exempt from the "predator" label, and it lets purely-opportunistic carrion-eaters like hippos or rabbits off the hook. Omnivorous hunters, conversely, are lumped together with the obligate carnivores, as are piscivores like the Ottertons and insectivores like Mr. Big, whose wild ancestors ate mammals only rarely. It's not a question of eating meat, it's a matter of making it.
  • Does anyone else feel bothered by the annoyingly vague use of "predators" and "prey," two words that are almost meaningless in the way they're used here, and especially in the movie's present? Don't worry, you're supposed to. Since the movie can be seen as a condemnation of racism, its use of in-universe racial terms in such a vague and unscientific way is done deliberately in order to make racism look stupid!
  • Sloths:
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    • Aside from the obvious "comically slow bureaucrats" joke, it makes a weird sort of sense for the DMV employees to be sloths: an ideal employee in a place like that would be very careful, so as to avoid making clerical errors, and very patient and cool-headed, for dealing with dissatisfied customers. Maybe the sloths are a little ''too'' careful, but there's a kind of logic to it.
    • Sloths, out of all mammals, are best suited to that kind of desk work. For most species — humans included — the forced inactivity can just about drive them insane. For a sloth, it's a lively outing.
    • In the epilogue, it's revealed that Flash drives irresponsibly fast. Of course he does- his slow reaction time means that even if he were interested in adjusting to traffic conditions, he couldn't do so before said conditions changed again. It's likely he just gave up.
  • Surprisingly, even though mammals of all size and shape inhabit Zootopia, primates are nowhere to be seen. The creators of the movie must have thought that primates are too closely related to humans. The idea of apes not understanding Animal Talk because of this dates all the way back to Lady and the Tramp. It's entirely possible that the reason humanity "never happened", to quote the trailer, is that primates all became extinct long before the first proto-hominid.
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    • Going off of the whole "humans never existed" angle, it suddenly makes sense why we only ever see wild animals; there are plenty of big cats everywhere, and we know there are foxes and wolves, but there are no cats or dogs. It could be that those species don't exist in this universe because humans weren't around to domesticate the ancient wolves and the smaller cats died out.
    • While pink pigs and fluffy white sheep don't exist in the wild and appear to damage the "no humans" rule, their existence can be justified. Pigs come in as wide a variety of colors as humans — it's the bristly hair that keeps them from looking that pale. Likewise, sheep have white wool as a dominant gene pattern that is only reduced in the wild because white animals stand out against natural backgrounds. (As for "fluffy", Bellwether must use product — real wool is kinky, oily hair.)
    • Floppy ears and pale coloration are some of the marks of domestication. Experiments in breeding foxes and rats revealed that even when you breed only for friendliness towards humans, you end up with curly-tailed floppy-eared animals with partially white pelts. It may be that sheep and pigs 'self-domesticated' at some point, the ones that could live and work together more comfortably leaving more offspring. Some anthropologists believe humans did this to ourselves.
    • The lack of primates not only explains how humanity never happened — it makes it clear that humanity never can happen. Whatever common ancestor evolved into primates and other mammals in our world is obviously long extinct by the time of the film, so if primates never came into existence in this world, humans never will at all.
  • The movie demonstrates its own point - early on, Doug honks at Nick to get out of his way. Judy - and by extension, the camera - focus on Nick as the suspicious party, because he's a predator. Nick was pulling a hustle but the real criminal of the movie was Doug. If Judy had watched Doug - an 'innocent' prey sheep - instead of Nick, she could have solved the case much, much earlier. Doug is also the one who's more aggressive and in a hurry - he pulls out sharply and nearly hits Nick, who only shrugs in a disbelieving manner without yelling back, but Judy is too busy profiling Nick to worry what the sheep's problem is.
  • Nick's philosophy of "since nobody trusts foxes anyway, I'll just be a conman" has an additional layer, since his scheme relies on other animals being prejudiced against foxes: Nick, who is a red fox, presents Finnick, who is a fennec, as his child; who could possibly believe such a transparent lie... except for someone who can't, or doesn't care enough to, tell foxes apart? Even Judy, who does make an active effort to be more open-minded, doesn't seem to realize that Nick's supposed son is a completely different species.
  • Criminal shrew:
    • A shrew being a mob boss might be an odd choice on just size alone, but shrews are actually very vicious animals for that size and need to eat 1/2 to 2 times their body weight in food every day. Some species are even venomous.
    • Shrews are highly territorial predators. If you force two arctic shrews (which Mr. Big might well be, considering he lives in Tundratown) into close quarters, one of them will be dead within the next several days. This would be less chilling (no pun intended) if researchers had any idea why the dead shrew stopped living...
    • Small predator species would be the likeliest to form criminal gangs in Zootopia, since in American history many of the most notorious gangs were formed by discriminated minorities (Jews, Italians, Blacks, Irish), and predators are the discriminated minority in Zootopia. Add to this that there seems to be at least condescension if not outright discrimination against small species in general too (such as Judy at the academy or the police, or Bellwether who may have only been picked for vice-mayor by her own admission to get the sheep vote) - small predators arguably get the worst of both.
    • Not to mention that the police force's makeup is so heavily slanted towards megafauna that merely physically fitting inside a shrew crime lord's inner sanctum to properly search the place would be mechanically impossible for most officers. Even Judy's paws would be hard put to dig through Mr. Big's paperwork or access his cell phone; if the cops really want to bust Tundratown's mob boss, they need to start recruiting lemmings and voles.
  • Related to the above, Mr. Big actually has a pretty valid reason to help Judy in her investigations the second time: he and all of his mooks are predators, so if one is spreading hatred against them it is in his best interests to stop that. Plus, Judy is by far the smallest police officer — the only one small enough to actually deal with rodents — and that might be dangerous for his operations, so getting on her good side can't be a bad thing. And don't forget that Mr. Big said that Otterton is "like family to me." Given his established temper, it's not hard to imagine how pissed off Mr. Big became after learning that Weaselton had a hand/paw in turning Otterton feral... On top of this, Weaselton was the one responsible for almost getting his daughter crushed by a donut, which Judy saves her from. So, Mister Big probably wouldn't take kindly to Weaselton, would he?
  • Zootopia is specifically mentioned as a mammal city, and birds and reptiles are nowhere to be seen. This could have several reasons:
    • Zootopia is also rife with Fantastic Racism. If the various mammalian species are prejudiced against each other, then of course an average mammal wouldn't want to walk the same streets a bird and a lizard step on. This point gets even better when one takes into account that, in nature, both big reptiles and birds of prey are the apex predators of the natural habitats they appear in, and only get trumped by humans, which as established don't exist in the Zootopia universe.
    • Some animals, like cats, are obligate carnivores that need meat to survive. Putting two and two together, well... Three buildings ("Fishtown Market", "Clark Halibuts", and "Blubber Chef") seen in Tundra Town when Judy rides the train through the city) imply that they sell fish. Which admittedly doesn't stop reptiles and birds also being non-sapient and thusly a food source for predatory mammals, seeing as how, like fish and bugs, they do fall under What Measure Is a Non-Cute?.
  • Judy Hopps and Nick Wilde are trying to stop species-based bigotry in Zootopia. The main antagonist, Bellwether, while mistreated and genuinely seeing the predators' dominance in Zootopia as bad, bases her entire plan around enforcing it. The plan is to have the 90% of the population act against the remaining 10%, that she sees as oppressive. She doesn't try to accomplish that by having them start thinking on their own, but by trusting them to follow her lead without question. Of course, she's a sheep.
  • The last gag. Aside from the obvious joke being made about Flash being the fastest sloth around, it makes a fair bit of sense why a sloth would be an avid street racer. Given how slowly they moved, once they stepped on the accelerator of a car, it'd take them a long time for them to stop accelerating/hit the brakes. Add on the fact that Flash has a sports car and it makes sense that he'd be traveling at ludicrous speeds most of the time. Even justified, in that three-toed sloths (unlike two-toed sloths) can move very quickly when angry or excited. When driving his car at high speeds, Flash is going to be reacting much faster.
  • The last gag is particularly interesting since Flash works at the DMV. Probably not for long after that scene, though.
  • Nick's shirt pattern, of all things, is a link to proving he still has softness under his cynical Deadpan Snarker facade. It has a faded green pattern of palm leaves on it - just like the wallpaper in his house in the flashback scene. It's subtle, but invokes some Fridge Sadness as you realize he may very well think of the home he left every time he looks at it. Similarly, a closer inspection of Nick's handkerchief reveals it to be the scarf from his Junior Ranger Scout uniform. The colour is a bit washed out, but the pattern is still recognisable.
This in turn invites some more Fridge Sadness: Of course he kept the Junior Ranger Scout scarf: he probably couldn't afford to throw clothes away given it's established he was extremely poor growing up.
  • Given Mr. Big's actual size and species, the fact that the wall rug Nick gave him was just a skunk's butt fur makes sense. That isn't a lot of fur to a polar bear, and it wouldn't be considered a wall rug by bear standards. But to a shrew? Definitely. And the reason why Mr. Big got so pissed off at Nick about it? Shrews have an incredibly good sense of smell.
  • Just a few days after her wedding, Fru Fru shows a very advanced pregnancy. For a human, this would mean it was a Shotgun Wedding, but shrews and other small mammals have very short pregnancies, so she likely got pregnant on her wedding day or a few days before. While this is kind of undermined by the fact that Word of God states that there's a Time Skip of about 3 months, at the least, between Judy's disastrous press conference and her short-lived resignation from the ZPD and there being the whole "pregnant women need to look big so that we know they're pregnant" trope to take into consideration, it could have been the 2nd/3rd/however many-eth grandchild in the time passed.
  • When Nick and Judy are in a museum, you can see an exhibit where several prehistoric rabbits with spears are fending off a predator who is still walking on all fours like a savage animal, implying that prey animals were the first to develop civilization and the predators only followed later, presumably out of necessity. This makes the public fear about predators turning savage all the more understandable as there would be cultural biases of prey deeming themselves inherently more civilized.
  • Mr. Otterton was Mr. Big's florist. And he then said that Otterton wanted to talk with him about "something urgent." Considering what we later find out about Nighthowler plants, it's possible that Otterton wanted to warn Mr. Big about the plant, hence why it was so urgent for him to get that limo to Mr. Big's place. It also would give an added layer on why he was turned feral. Not just that he was a predator. He was also turned to uphold the conspiracy. In an early scene, Duke Weaselton steals "moldy onions" from a florist (really, Bogo?). Emmitt Otterton was also a florist. It is entirely possible that Otterton's shop was also stolen from, and as a predator with close ties to organized crime, he knew what they were really good for.
  • How weird is it that Bellwether couldn't feel her head wool being touched by Nick? A simple case of Toon Physics? Except that she very likely did feel it, but was holding it in for the time being. This is given more credit as later in prison she slaps away another mammal's hand that touches it much more lightly than Nick did. Also, foxes are one of a sheep's natural predators, so the way Nick paws her hair, and practically drools as he does so, might well creep out some viewers.
  • Bogo's justifications:
    • Bogo is definitely a Jerkass early on... except he actually is right. Judy's behaviour as a new recruit is quite reckless. Her being dispatched as a meter maid is seen as demeaning and stereotyping, except a lot of police officers start out at the bottom and work their way up. He's not being sexist and racist for doing that, he's just doing his job. (Not so much of an excuse for when he gives her forty-eight hours to make an arrest on a case that the whole ZPD itself couldn't solve in two weeks...)
    • Adding to that, it makes sense for Bogo to make Judy a meter maid initially; since she's just moved to Zootopia, it would allow her to learn the layout of the city without being at risk.
    • Since she was a political appointment and valedictorian, he also likely feared entitlement issues and an ego that he would need to beat out of her with menial work.
    • Bogo's forthright demeanor hints that he is not discriminating against Judy solely because of her species, because if he was he would have said so, directly, as he does with Nick later on. The closest he comes is an indirect comment about not wanting her on the force in the first place, which he only makes after she breaks a lot of rules and doesn't apologize.
    • At first glance, Bogo appears to be a Bad Boss who prefers dumb muscle to smart cops; but once you look deeper at his interactions, you realize how much of a Reasonable Authority Figure he truly is. He has every reason to be the way he is with Judy in the first act - she's a rookie straight out of the academy with little experience walking the beat, she goes after a thief without backup or a weapon, and does endanger the civilians of Little Rodentia with the chase. His attempt to "remove her" from the force using their wager is in reality an attempt to rein in her impulsive tendencies, which could cost her further down the line, as cops need to be rational and level headed when on the job. His attempt at firing her is completely justified, as she is a probationary officer who refused to follow direction or commands. However, once she locates all of the feral victims, not just the one she was assigned, he doesn't chastise her or steal the credit, but gives her the respect she deserves. The fact that he treats Clawhauser with the utmost dignity and respect despite his obvious eccentricities is in contrast to this apparent Bad Boss behavior, and only confirms that he merely has high standards for his officers to meet.
    • Even the 48 hours thing makes sense if you consider that Judy had started her insubordination in a shorter amount of time. If she fails, she learns a lesson about overestimating her own abilities and how much time things realistically take and doesn't end up any worse off than she would have if Bellwether hadn't intervened in her termination. If she succeeds, Bogo will have empirical proof she can walk the walk as well as she talks the talk.
    • There's also the fact that Judy actively oversteps her authority against Bogo in front of a citizen. When Mrs. Otterton slips into Bogo's office, he does exactly what you would expect him to do. Try to give her hope but let her down gently that they'd be able to find her husband that easily. But then Judy steps in and tells Mrs Otterton directly that his case will be solved. Judy had no authority to override the words of a superior, let alone overturning the words of the police chief of all people. Judy only heard Mrs. Otterton's story and felt sympathy for her. But Bogo would have already been dealing with who knows how many other worried and frightened families and friends of the other missing predators. And with his pre-existing officers already stretched thin, he doesn't have any room to give anyone special treatment. Even a worried wife and mother. Especially when it's such a small case file with so little evidence. As far as Bogo may have been concerned, Judy was making promises she probably couldn't hope to keep to a distraught woman who would have only been more hurt when she inevitably failed. And after Judy had already abandoned her assigned duty, endangered the citizens of Little Rodentia, gone after a criminal without equipment or backup, and then tried to justify her insubordination to his face while acting as if she knew more than him and justifying it with her wish to be anything other than a meter maid, that was the straw that broke the camel's back for him.
    • All this said, he could have taken the time to interact with Judy as an equal and explain to her why she was a meter maid, since her "token bunny" speech clearly indicated that she felt discriminated against. You could see him not giving his full motives to see if she will obey him without question, but when she comes up to talk to him about how she doesn't feel he's being fair, instead of saying something like, "Trust me, meter monitoring is where you need to be right now, show me that you can work hard," he acts demeaning toward her and slams the door in her face. He might mean well, but he comes off so rudely it's no wonder she took it as discrimination, which then fueled her desire to prove herself. She might have been less insubordinate, or at least admitted her errors, if she hadn't felt like Bogo was set against her. Judy's got her own issues, but it takes two to tango.
  • Bogo and Lionheart:
    • When Chief Bogo assigns the officers to track down the disappeared mammals, he says that the City Hall has been pressuring him to hurry up and find them. Later in the movie, it's revealed that Mayor Lionheart is behind the mammals' disappearances, so why would Lionheart order ZPD to find the missing mammals in the first place if it was he himself who's responsible? Except it's actually part of Bellwether's plan to discredit Lionheart. She deliberately targets predators to turn feral and expects Lionheart to do something about it to protect his own reputation (because he's also a predator), then "requests" ZPD to find out about it. It also explains why Bellwether is so supportive of Judy's investigation. She wants Judy to expose Lionheart's plans and discredit predators as a whole while she becomes the new mayor and is free to do anything she wants.
    • His rough treatment of Judy seems to be based off her being a "bunny," yet throughout the movie there are hints of an antagonistic working relationship between Lionheart and Bogo. Bogo's low approval of Judy may not be her only being a bunny, but because she's the latest in a long line of Lionheart's political schemes to gain public favor. He can't take it out on Lionheart directly because he's on top of the food chain, literally and figuratively, so he takes it out on Judy being a product of one of the MANY "political inclusion programs". This also suggests that Bogo doesn't see his superior as a credible authority figure but more as someone who preys upon the oppression and resentment of minorities to gain the populace's vote, a predator. Lionheart exploits the broken system Bogo detests to his advantage. But that begs the question whether his later and much better treatment of Judy is because she found the animals or gratitude she got rid of a pain in the rump for Bogo?
    • It could be that Mayor Lionheart is in fact the one pressuring ZPD to find the missing mammals. Yes, he's the one responsible for their disappearances, but he's also worried over the mystery of what's causing the predators to go feral in the first place, and putting pressure on ZPD to find the mammals is a way (albeit a risky one) to show his concern for the missing mammals while diverting their attention away from him as a suspect.
  • The film obviously promotes inclusion and not judging books by their covers. This theme is stealthily promoted by many characters and their unique/contradictory traits.
    • Chief Bogo, a big, no-nonsense cop, secretly loves pop idols.
    • Flash the sloth is actually a speed demon when he's in his muscle car.
    • Finnick looks like a little cutie, but is a tough baller.
    • Clawhauser, a cheetah, is sedentary and an acquiescent sweetheart.
    • Nangi, a yoga instructor, is an elephant who can't seem to remember anything.
    • The receptionist at Otterton's nudist hangout is a Cloud Cuckoo Lander and (implied) Erudite Stoner with an incredibly accurate and detailed memory.
    • Gideon Grey is a fox without any cunning and is instead a Dumb Muscle bully as a child and a Reformed Bully as an adult.
    • Madge is a honey badger who really, really cares—enough to be perfectly willing to sacrifice her image as a predator if it means the Zootopians know the truth.
    • Mr. Big who, outside of his don persona, is shown to be a great father who has a lot of respect for the people he trusts and a sense of honor. And Fru Fru, who has such an incredibly sweet personality despite being a mob boss's daughter.
    • And the villain of the movie, the secret mastermind behind everything that's happened, is a cute little sheep!
  • At first it may seem off that an otter like Mr. Otterton reverting to his feral state would be so aggressive at all times, even when there's no one around to attack, or provoke him. While most animals chalk this up to him reverting to his predator instincts, in real life otters have pretty relaxed and playful dispositions (although it should be noted that they are wild animals that attack when they feel threatened or provoked, and do not make good house pets) and they evolved to mainly forage for slow-moving fish and invertebrates like crabs, mussels, clams, etc. At first it can seem like a glaring case of Critical Research Failure, until it's revealed that the cause of the Hate Plague is a poisonous plant that makes ALL animals it comes into contact with turn aggressive, even bunnies. This also serves to highlight how pervasive Zootopia's Fantastic Racism is: otters technically being carnivores gets them classified as "predators", and since they're predators that means they must have naturally feral, savage, aggressive dispositions. If anyone had said, "Wait, otters were mainly foragers, and were pretty mellow and friendly even in their natural state", they probably would have figured out how artificial the Hate Plague was a little sooner. This said, it should also be pointed out that no one in the city would have any idea how wild otters would actually act. The only way they would know about the behavior of wild predators is if the herbivores managed to not only develop sapience but full on writing (which took hundreds of thousands of years for humans to develop in real life) before predators developed sapience, unlikely since predators are usually smarter than herbivores (they need to be), and even if they did, the records would be similar to big bad wolf tales, not scientific observation. Of course no one realizes that the behavior of the savage predators doesn't match the behavior of real wild animals they have no frame of reference for it.
  • Disney does a good job of setting up Nick and Judy's final scheme to take down Bellwether.
    • They show you all the pieces- the gun, the serum capsule, and the blueberries.
    • If you look at Nick carefully, you can tell he's not actually under the effects of the serum. All the feral animals' eyes turn more similar to the real life counterpart's but Nick's stays green rather than turning a vulpine brown, and his pupils don't contract to slits.
    • The two characters faking the whole scene is really well set up during the film, as both show at least once that they enjoy playing comedy: Judy with her acting role in the first scene (made obvious by her echoing the overdramatic death of the play) and Nick's scam as a nice dad in the elephants' ice cream shop.
    • During the bullying scene, Travis teases Judy about how her nose twitches when she's scared. When Nick pretends to attack her, Judy's nose doesn't twitch at all.
    • The diorama-display model that Nick tears to bits when he's pretending to be a savage fox? It is a savage fox from pre-civilized times. Which Nick rips apart, exposing its stuffing and making it visible to onlookers that the thing's not real. He's not just suckering Bellwether with his performance, he's waving it in her face that there's no genuine "savage fox" here! Nick, you wise-ass, you...
    • Both the fox and rabbit are archetypical trickster animals. Of course they end up tricking the Big Bad.
  • During the climactic Chase Scene, after Judy gets injured, she doesn't tell Nick to go on without her just to save the evidence. She (correctly) deduces that Bellwether wants to kill her — they can't inject her with the Psycho Serum, as a savage bunny would undermine the predators-are-evil campaign. Nick has no such protection — Judy would know their attackers would have no qualms about giving a fox the serum. She's trying to save him from a Fate Worse than Death! This is reinforced by the "plan" Nick and Judy come up with to save themselves. The fake rabbit used to distract the guards is a decoy. The real plan is to swap out the Psycho Serum with blueberries.
  • Like Nick points out (and proves later), the case with the weapon and dose of the Night Howler drug was evidence enough to prove what was happening, so why did Judy risk everything trying to get the entire mobile lab out of the subway tunnel? Sure, she'd want to stop it from being used on anyone else, but why couldn't she wait? Because she'd just heard Doug's next target was a "cheetah" and, like the audience, she must have feared it could have been her friend Clawhauser and become desperate to stop him immediately!
  • Clawhauser is exhausted shortly after the one chase he gets involved in, which is partly due to his weight slowing him down... but also because cheetahs, despite how quickly they run naturally, have exceptionally poor stamina. A Real Life cheetah in top hunting condition drops the chase after no more than a minute without going over 30 mph — at 31 mph and up, it's only about 23 seconds.
  • A rather interesting advantage both Judy and Nick have over the other ZPD cops: while the large cops have the advantage of muscle and intimidation, most of them are animals that would have trouble in Biomes that are not their native one (i.e. the elephant and rhino cops might need special winter gear just to work in Tundra Town). Judy and Nick, however, are a rabbit and a fox, two animals that can be found in just about every land biome. This means that, while they aren't that strong compared to their fellow officers, they can move through the different biomes of the city easily, without special equipment. This can also explain how Judy very quickly went through the obstacle course. It was a combination of her willpower, and the fact that rabbits can thrive in just about every biome. Note also the animals in the police bullpen. By a narrow margin it's mostly wolves, another animal that thrives in a large number of biomes. On the other side of the coin, the mayor's special forces consist only of wolves. Aside from their noses being excellent in tracking, wolves also work best in close-knit packs of other wolves, which are great for covert-ops missions that require a small group of highly skilled combatants.
  • Before the movie came out a lot of people were guessing that the Hate Plague was something akin to rabies infecting the population. It's not - it's a plant toxin the animals are specifically being hit with - but the movie makes us think that might be the case at first since we see the character that was attacked and scratched by an animal that had gone feral ending up going feral as well. This also does a good job of hiding the fact that there's a villain at all. Until halfway through the movie, you'll probably be thinking the issue is gonna be finding a cure for those going feral. Disney may have played their same-old Plot Twist as in their past few movies, but it's not immediately evident that there's an actual bad guy. Even Lionheart would be questionable as an actual villain, seeing as how he was trying to find a cure (his methods notwithstanding).
  • The Sensitive Guy and Manly Man dynamic between Chief Bogo and Officer Clawhauser subtly reinforces that stereotyping is wrong. Bogo is a prey animal and Clawhauser is a predator animal, but the former fits the stereotype of "predator" far better than the latter does. Meanwhile, the latter fits the stereotype of "prey" far better than the former does. Had Judy been asked to pick which of those two was more likely to go savage, if she'd thought about it, she might not have chosen the predator over the prey.
  • At the climax of the film when Nick and Judy are running away from Bellwether and her minions in the natural history museum, Nick is able to avoid the tusk of the Mammoth exhibit, but Judy trips over it and injures her leg to the point she can't run, despite showing to be the more physical and agile of the two. If you think about it, the teaser shows Nick, a fox, to have good low-light vision, while Judy, a rabbit, doesn't, which is really helpful in the very dark museum. This is also foreshadowed in Mr. Big's car and the abandoned hospital, when Judy uses her phone flashlight to look around while Nick doesn't bother, as he can see in the dark unaided.
  • The natural history museum having a mammoth and saber-toothed small rodents as the predecessors to the film's current animals makes a lot of sense as a meta reference to Ice Age, the first CGI feature film to star mammals. The mammoth even bears a striking resemblance to Manny from Ice Age.
  • How does the Big Bad keep up with Judy and Nick's progress, taking out Manchas before he can spill any useful info? It's easy when Zootopia is blanketed by traffic cameras, and she has access to all the feeds from her computer, with the number of her hit man next to the phone. That also explains how the Big Bad is able to find Judy and Nick in the museum at the end of the movie.
  • Yax has an incredibly good memory, recalling multiple small details from the last time he saw Otterton and being seemingly unaware that this is something out of the ordinary. Meditation is known to improve memory.
  • The reconciliation scene between Judy and Nick...
    • He needed time to cool his head enough to realize that, deep down, he was just as prejudiced as she was. He played her during their first interaction, even making a fool of her by setting up an instance that got her stuck in wet cement, and even sliced hours off her mission timer with that needless stunt at the DMV, and yet not only did her actions in the movie save his life when they inevitably crossed paths with Mr. Big, she did so again when Manchas went feral. Then the final clincher happened when they arrived at the hospital and saw the other frenzied animals, her target included. Not only was he emotionally preying upon her with those stunts, and intentionally at that, but he nearly compromised a case that could have helped the person she was trying to rescue and so many more, all predators. In contrast, her discriminatory comments were a side effect of the pressures of the interview. She only reached for the fox repellent, which she kept on her person ever since she left home, when he appeared to physically threaten her. In short, he was just as much a product of his childhood as she was of hers. He had forgiven her before she arrived; he just ribbed her to show that he was still himself.
    • It's a small moment, but there's the fact that he didn't throw away the application like he did with the fake badge sticker; he just gave it to Judy. Nick probably knew deep down that Judy would eventually realize her mistakes and apologize for it, and that they would reconcile. It also shows that despite what happened, he still wanted to be her partner, and he gave it to Judy because she would keep it safe.
  • Why didn't Judy recognize the common name for Night Howlers and their effects on animals, considering even someone like Gideon Grey knew about them growing up at Bunnyburrow? Judy grew up always wanting to be a police officer and therefore spent most of her childhood focusing on entering the academy and later getting through the academy, which probably meant she did not spend much time helping around her family's farm nor would have had much interest learning about it. She might have known their scientific name and recognized them as bulbs due to a childhood being educated on horticulture and other subjects related to farming, without knowing about their use as a benevolent pesticide or their potential use as a feral-inducing drug.

    Stu also uses the plants to keep bugs off of the produce. He knows that the plants have a psychotic effect on children when consumed due to the incident with Uncle Terry, but he may not have known that this was common knowledge enough for them to have a nickname in reference to it. Also, it's possible the nickname "Night Howler" is an impolite term (re: wolves), so Judy's parents just didn't use it where Gideon's parents did. Regarding the effects of the plant, Judy's mother could have been uncomfortable sharing the story where her brother attacked and bit her. So Judy didn't associate Night Howlers with feral insanity because it was a story she had never heard until now. Gideon is actually the one who specifically brings up the common name for them, saying "I always just called them Night Howlers", or something like that. So even if Judy was aware of its negative effects, that pretty much confirms that Stu just never used the casual term for it around her. This is well within the realm of possibility, since even IRL, many formerly common phrases have been phased out due to being socially unacceptable. "Being gypped" or "getting Jewed" have both fallen out of common parlance, and are just a few examples of this in action.
  • Clawhauser sports a classic "camp voice", which fits his personality to a T... but also works perfectly as an anthropomorphized version of the vocalizations of a lesser cat or feline (the subfamily to which cheetahs belong). Its high pitch and sibilance cleverly combine elements of meowing and hissing.
  • Nick calls Judy "cute", and can't understand why she finds the fact (as he considers it) offensive: he doesn't attach any negative connotations to the word, so why should she? Then in the interview scene, Judy states that predators may be inherently more "savage", and is later mystified as to why Nick would consider that offensive. It's just a fact, right?
  • When they first meet, Judy calls Nick "a real articulate fella". It at first seems to be a strange You Are a Credit to Your Race-kind of thing to say to a fox (as there's not much of a well-known stereotype about foxes not being articulate; the dominant stereotype actually being that they are cunning), until you remember the other fox Judy has ever been shown encountering: Gideon Grey, who is shown to be aggressive and tough but not very bright (such as when he pronounces DNA as "dunnah").
  • Zootopian society works not only because everyone can agree that using power to hurt others is wrong, but because there are many more types of power than brute ("predatory"?) strength. Judy and Nick use intellectual and social power to defeat the Big Bad, just as she uses fear tactics and strength in numbers to endanger all predators. True, Judy wasn't equal to the other police officers- but only because Bogo wasn't giving her the same opportunities to be so. Given a chance, she triumphed over Bogo's glass ceiling just as she triumphed over police training.
  • Having Desert Square right next to Tundra Town makes sense. The tundra is more than just the plants and animals, it's the climate as well. They have giant refrigeration units to keep the district cold enough to properly replicate the tundra ecosystem. Those units would absorb a tremendous amount of heat, which is promptly radiated over in Desert Square. During Judy's arrival, the train passes through the desert. Look at the large structures built into the walls. They are glowing red in parts as they release the heat. Also, moisture could be moved from Desert Square to Tundra Town, since the latter is apparently meant to have snow, and the defining feature of a desert is its extremely low level of annual rainfall, not its temperature (Antarctica has deserts, for example).
    • Not only that, but the refrigeration units on the other side of Tundratown can vent their exhaust heat into the Rainforest district, keeping its jungle biome nicely tropical. And when the prevailing winds carry moisture from that district's sprays towards the tundra biome, its chill will freeze that moisture out of the air and cause it to fall as additional snow, never reaching the arid desert zone.
  • Nick stereotypes all rabbits as farmers, which makes sense. Rabbits are explosive breeders and without predators to thin their numbers and can quickly devour all of the food within a given area (just ask Australia), so it makes sense that they would be all on a farm; they have more than enough hands to handle all of the manual labor and a farm mass producing food is probably the only place that can reliably sustain them. This could explain why Judy's parents had to "settle hard" instead of pursuing something or someone else.
  • As Nick and Judy are infiltrating the Cliffside Asylum, Nick is nearly discovered by a wolf who manages to smell his scent. Red foxes have musk glands, which exude their scent so that they can mark their territory for other animals. That, and the fact that the wind was blowing in the wolf's direction (you can see his coat collar being pressed against his neck) means that the wind blew the musk in the wolf's direction, allowing him to smell Nick out.
  • In real life, predators tend to only attack when hunting or being territorial/protective. This is due to the fact that they have limited energy that they mostly spend hunting. Herbivores, on the other hand, are constantly in danger from being hunted, and thus some tend to be more aggressive than predators; plus since their food (plants) doesn't fight back, that means they have plenty of energy to spare. This is the reason why some of the most dangerous animals on the planet such as elephants, rhinos, and hippos are herbivores. This fits in with both the "villainous" acts by the predator characters in the film and the main villain.
    • Nick is a Con Artist who's been ripping people off for a living since he was a kid. He got that way because he grew up poor (having no territory and needing to work to protect his family), and because he was so viciously bullied by bigots falsely assuming he was a crook entirely because of his species that he just decided he might as well make the most of it. But he's still not THAT evil; he just cheats and swindles, actually HURTING people isn't his thing.
    • Mayor Lionheart basically had a bunch of citizens kidnapped; he imprisoned people without charge or trial, without even informing their families, and put them in an undisclosed location for medical experimentation. The people he did this to weren't actually in a position to BE tried since they'd lost their minds and become dangerously violent, but that doesn't change the fact that he broke quite a few laws. He did it to protect his own job (territorial), prevent a public panic (protecting the city and himself), find a cure for whatever was causing the Hate Plague, and avoid a race war against predators (of which he is one). Also, he had no idea how it was spread and no way of knowing if he would be the next one infected. So his job, his home, his family, his species, and his own life are in danger.
    • Not so much for the main villain, a prey animal. While Lionheart was cruel and condescending to her, this is hardly enough excuse for Bellwether to turn innocent civilians into rage zombies in hope of starting a civil war! However, this does fit in with the phenomena of herbivores attacking anything they think will harm them (regardless of whether it's actually a threat, like an innocent human), since Bellwether wants all predators discriminated, including the harmless ones like Clawhauser and the Ottertons.
  • Clawhauser uses the word "cute" to compliment Judy and is shocked and horrified to discover she finds it offensive. This makes sense, as Clawhauser belongs to a subfamily that is known for adorable physical characteristics and mannerisms (Just look at the little guy!) and capabilities such as fierceness and cleverness. He would likely not ascribe any connotations of inferiority to the word at all. There's also the issue that there doesn't appear to be any other rabbits around - it's possible most of them live in rural country because of how big their families can be. So if this is a rabbit-specific issue, then any other animal that calls them cute wouldn't realize it was offensive because there were no rabbits around to tell them so.
  • Where did Judy get the idea to escape down the toilet in the asylum? She must have remembered her little mishap in the bathroom back at the academy.
  • During the climax, Judy badly injures her right leg. Later, while she and Nick are running from the sheep, he's supporting her on her left side. What, were they trying to get caught...? Of course, considering how things played out...
  • Chief Bogo is suggested early on to be very closed-minded, which makes his eventual acceptance of Judy surprising, except for in context with his relationship with one direct report in particular: Benjamin Clawhauser. He's fat, Ambiguously Gay, a Bunny-Ears Lawyer, somewhat short, and not even remotely fitting the archetype of a tough cop... and Bogo seems to have no problem with him, even immediately forgiving him for letting Mrs. Otterton into his office by accident and apologizing. This suggests that all he's really concerned about is whether he can consider someone a "good employee" or not, which would include contextual competence in balance with compliance with instructions.
  • A subtle bit of foreshadowing that Bellwether is behind everything is that all three of the other animals in Judy's main circle are explicitly shown to be very honest by nature and she is not. Bogo is blunt, keeps his word and accepts his loss honorably, and demonstrates poor lying and bluffing skills when Bellwether boxes him into keeping Judy on the force and when Clawhauser finds him playing with the Gazelle app. Clawhauser is open about his feelings, doesn't try to hide any of his passions others might find shameful, and consistently delivers information that the audience can verify is truthful and accurate. Even Nick, who doesn't have this as a major defining character trait, explicitly only became dishonest because of a traumatic experience. Bellwether, on the other hand, is clearly framed as "nice" without any clear indications of honesty.
  • Why is it that while Nick felt betrayed and got very upset about Judy's careless parroting of the doctor in the secret facility's preliminary speculation about the cause of the Hate Plague at the press conference, other predators like Clawhauser (who was even having his career messed up as a result) and Mrs. Otterton continue to be on speaking terms with her? Because he's the only one among them who'd previously had a traumatizing experience with discrimination. He reacted so intensely because it brought back memories of how the bullies beat up and muzzled him as a kid for being a "dangerous predator", and felt especially betrayed since it came from the first person he'd ever opened up to about the issue. Of course, the fact that he'd previously noticed how she carried Fox Repellent Spray didn't help either. But as a whole, it is likely that the other predators just saw her actions at that press conference for what they were: those of an investigator who didn't know exactly what was going on but tried to relay the facts of the case to the best of her knowledge, and they didn't really blame her for the ensuing unrest. He likely realized not long afterwards that he overreacted and shouldn't have taken it so personally, which is why he was so quick to completely forgive her when she came back, albeit after enjoying listening to her grovel for a bit.
  • Where did Judy get that plastic baggie to protect her phone from the water, and how did she know it would hold? She's a police officer, so of course she would carry evidence bags that are designed to prevent contamination.note 
  • Clawhauser, a cheetah, is obsessed with pop star Gazelle. Gazelles are a cheetah's natural prey. The major difference is Clawhauser is more interested in meeting her than eating her.
  • The "angel" depicted in the Carrot Days play at the beginning has a rainbow for a halo. In the Judeo-Christian tradition, of course, the rainbow was the promise to never again destroy the world after Noah left the Ark—as in, the means which preserved all the animals.
    • It's also a good symbol within-Verse for a costume representing how the animals have "evolved" from wildlife into civilized and more human-like (although they don't know the word) beings. Very few Real Life mammals can see the complete range of colors extant in a rainbow; in a world with no primates, no placental mammal would be expected to have that ability. But the diversity of colors in Zootopians' clothes, decor and advertisements suggest that all-color vision is yet another trait they've acquired when they "evolved", right alongside sapience, bipedalism, opposable thumbs, and speech.
  • Mayor Lionheart's disinterest in actually governing (e.g. his "Clear my afternoon, I'm going out") makes far more sense when it's revealed that he's fixated on the savage predator situation, and clearly wants to devote all of his available time to this crisis rather than his routine duties.
  • During the preface in Judy's childhood, Gideon inflicts a flesh wound on her. It's a bit of a shock, but it's a deliberate bit of writing to show that the rules of this particular Disney universe are more Gargoyles than they are Robin Hood: bad people can and will do violence to innocents unless they're stopped. It makes it clear that all these fuzzy little friendly critters in Zootopia can bleed and feel pain, which increases the emotional stakes once mysterious "atavism" and paranoia-fueled hate crimes become part of the story.
  • Mrs. Otterton mentions that she and Emmitt have two children. They appear in the photograph she gives Judy, but never on camera - because she doesn't want them to see their father in the feral state he is in when the missing mammals are found.
  • After Manchas's attack, when Nick steps in to defend Judy after Bogo demands her badge, it has been noted that he uses both of his four fingered paws to indicate they have 10 hours left. The viewing audience would interpret a character holding up all fingers of both hands as 10 and the animators likely used that visual shorthand to indicate that. However, there is an entertaining alternative. Nick did what he did to deliberately hustle Chief Bogo. Since Judy said they had 36 hours remaining when they left the Mystic Oasis nudist club, he either worked out the math and came up with 8 hours or just winged it and even when holding up 8 digits he said 10 to extend the deadline. That fits his con man personality and he gets to pull something over on Chief Bogo after he just gave Judy an embarrassing dressing down in front of her peers and made a remark about the trustworthiness of foxes.
  • When Judy and Nick come to Bellwether's office, Judy is the only one she speaks to or interacts with — she glances at Nick a few times but prefers to interact only with Judy (he promptly takes advantage of being overlooked to feel her wool). A subtle demonstration of the disdain she apparently has for all predators.
  • While it hardly excuses Lionheart's rudeness to Bellwether, knowing the truth behind the events makes it much more understandable: he really had a lot on his plate at the moment: the mysterious disease, abducting people to cover it up, the fear that, at best, he might lose his office if it all comes out, and, at worst, the madness might afflict him or his family - such things do tend to make people irascible, impatient for red tape and eager to vent their frustration on someone.
  • The scene where Clawhauser is removed from his desk because he is a predator is meant to be a Wham Shot for both Judy and the audience. Many viewers were charmed by his constant grin, friendliness and being a big, fat ball of fluff. It's a harsh reminder that Clawhauser is, in fact, a cheetah; a difficult thing to keep in mind when he reminds you more of your adorable, loving pet back at home.
  • Just before the press conference, Nick gives Judy a trick: Answer their question with another question, and answer to that question. For Judy, it doesn't go over so well; however, Mayor Lionheart, when he is interviewed at the end of the movie, appears to be using the same trick, to better results; he starts his answer to the interviewer with a question and answers that question.
  • The natural history museum where the climax takes place can be seen in the establishing shot of Savanna Central Plaza toward the end of the movie when Judy's voiceover is saying "When I was a kid...". The museum is at roughly the 12 o'clock position. In the same shot, you can see that ZPD Headquarters is at the 3 o'clock position. In light of this it's no surprise that the police were able to mobilize and respond so quickly to Mayor Bellwether's call. It's literally right across the plaza.
  • Gideon Grey's apology when he meets Judy as an adult uses language you wouldn't expect from him: "I had lot of self doubt, and it manifested itself in the form of unchecked rage and aggression." But it is the kind of language you might expect to hear from a psychologist. Gideon went to therapy.
  • It might bug you how the ethnics of this world's society was merely separated into two categories: "Predator" and "Prey". Then it comes to you exactly why this feels wrong: you're looking at it through a human's lens, not an animal's. While the animal kingdom is made up of so many species with inherent differences in strength and capabilities, of course it doesn't work with human society, because humanity is one species all with the same potential. To attach such connotations to ethnic labels only ends up making them demeaning, when it's barely relevant to the potential any human has. You look at Judy's drive to become a cop as a child, it's mostly the same as any human child; not truly caring about labels and stuff, and looking to gun for the goal she set for herself. The Aesop of Zootopia isn't "don't be racist, even just a little bit or accidentally"; it's that having such connotations to ethnic labels in the first place is detrimental and pointless. When you learn look at yourself and the world around you beyond mere ethnicity, you and those around you have the potential for anything.
  • There's actually a good reason for Clawhauser to be so addicted to donuts, beyond his being a (lampshaded) stereotypical cop: because of the high energy demands and intense metabolic rate of a cheetah's body, it's only logical that in a world where they can eat sugar without killing themselves, they would have a racial case of a Sweet Tooth. Sugar-rich food would be great for fueling their bodies. Clawhauser just A: takes it to excess (note the ending scene, where he gets presented with what looks like four dozen donuts), and B: works a mostly sedentary lifestyle. He'd probably be even fatter if he weren't a cheetah!
  • Why is Clawhauser the cheetah the nicest, sweetest and friendliest of the cops until Judy proves herself? With his coat, Clawhauser actually looks at a quick glance vaguely like a domesticated cat, something emphasized by his chubby build; you'd expect a "domestic" animal to be friendlier than the "wild animals" who make up the rest of the police force. Adding further to this, whilst it's still not a great idea, cheetahs have been domesticated with slightly more effectiveness than lions or tigers in real life.
  • Chief Bogo's status as a Mean Boss actually fits into the animal stereotypes that the film lampshades, invokes and plays with; real-life cape buffalo are known for being very aggressive. Of course, as this film relies on subverting or playing with those tropes, Bogo is more than just a Jerkass, and we see plenty of softer streaks to his personality as the film goes on.
  • The division of mammals to "Predator" and "Prey" is a gross oversimplification - omnivorous animals eat both meat and plant, smaller predator species may be prey for larger predators, many "prey" species occasionally eat meat in the form of insects and carrion, etc. But that's exactly how social classification and labeling works: classifying people in four or five "race" categories ignores the massive ethnic diversity, not to mention people of mixed parentage.
  • It has been mentioned elsewhere that is seems odd that Judy didn't notice how empty and light her microwave carrot dinner was. While the single carrot in the container doesn't fit the title "Carrots for One", the net weight of the package is supposed to be 16.7 oz. A closer examination of the carrot shows that it's very dehydrated, indicating that among all the other things that goes wrong for Judy that day, it seems she also severely overcooks her dinner.
  • Honey badgers are, for their size, very strong animals; they are capable of driving off animals several times their own size. Madge is head doctor at an asylum; at some point (particularly at the time of the film), as part of her job, she'd have to physically restrain a dangerous patient.
  • Doug's gun resembles a paintball marker more than a conventional firearm or even a real-world tranquilizer dart gun. And while this could be Family-Friendly Firearms it actually makes sense when you think about it. A dart gun would leave darts at the scene of the crime, breaking the charade that the Nighthowler attacks are predators going savage, whereas the small fragments of a paintball casing could be easily overlooked by the police or designed to rapidly dissolve after they break.
  • In a similar vein, pay attention to the weapons used by the security wolves. They're only shown very briefly, but they are unmistakable as Tasers. note  This might also seem like an instance of Family-Friendly Firearms (why wouldn't the guards just use "actual" guns?), but it makes perfect sense when you consider that they're working in a secret mental hospital, not a prison. Of course they'd be using nonlethal weapons.
  • When Nick delivers the oath as a Junior Ranger Scout, he promises to be brave, loyal, helpful and trustworthy. His harsh rejection and muzzling by the other members of the troop caused him to become cynical and live up to the stereotype of a sly fox. However, during his time with Judy on the Nighthowler case he finally gets to fulfill each part of that oath. He bravely stands up for Judy when Chief Bogo demands her badge and later comes to her defense yelling "Back off" when one of the rams breaks through the subway car window and starts grabbing at her. His loyalty is shown when refuses to leave her behind when she injures her leg at the museum. Many times he is helpful to her on the case, especially in saving the evidence as the subway car crashes. And finally, he proves his trustworthiness when he fake attacks Judy's throat as part of their Batman Gambit.
  • It seems strange at first that out of the original 14 missing animals, all of them were caught before they could be seen as feral and have the news story spread, especially since Bellwether's plan was for this to be become a widespread media issue. As the assistant mayor, she probably found out right away that the mayor was working to have them detained, and this played right into her hands. It was more beneficial for her to wait for a cop to expose him, and once the mayor is exposed and arrested, the cases of predators going berserk seems to happen much more publicly. That's why every earlier case had been designed to not be public; after all, it would have been very easy for Doug to tag a poor predator in broad daylight and watch him cause havoc. Better for her that all of the missing predators get media attention at the same time as they're discovered, since it makes for a much bigger media story. It was good luck on her part that Judy "solved" the case, but if she hadn't, then Bellwether would have likely solved the case by herself at some point, since it all hinged on her becoming mayor in the first place. All she would have to do is create some evidence against Lionheart and submit it to the police herself. The case getting cracked open by a rabbit (i.e. prey) was just icing on the cake.
  • The Big Bad's identity makes sense when you realize that, like quite a few other Disney villains, she is essentially an Evil Chancellor.
  • When you take a close look at it, the two good guys (Judy and Nick) and the two bad guys (Lionheart and Bellwether), you have an interesting case of quadruple foiling. That is, any member of that group can serve as a foil to any other member.
    • Nick and Judy: Both are the snarky, quick-witted, and sneaky good guys, but Judy's an optimistic loose cannon whereas Nick is the more reserved pessimist.
    • Lionheart and Bellwether: Both are politicians who are willing to lie and break the law in the name of the greater good. However, one lies to cover up something that could lead to unrest, the other to cause major unrest.
    • Judy and Bellwether: Both are small creatures with bigoted views who are trying to make the world a better place. However, whereas Judy tries to correct herself and actually help everyone, Bellwether assuredly does not.
    • Nick and Lionheart: Both are braggarts who break the law, hide, hide their true personalities to play on people, and understand just how dangerous prejudice is when aroused. However, when faced with the whole situation, Lionheart tries to cover it up, Nick helps bust it open.
    • Judy and Lionheart: Both have to worry about prejudice in the course of their jobs and flaunt the code of conduct they're supposed to adhere to in order to do their jobs. However, while Lionheart refuses to fully admit to doing something wrong, Judy's willing to face the consequences of her actions.
    • Nick and Bellwether: Both are people who are pushed around and who play to a stereotypical view of themselves while taking out their frustrations on others, often in a bigoted manner. However, Nick doesn't try to hurt anyone and is willing to become an actual hero.

      The main difference between the heroes and the bad guys is that the good guys are willing to admit when they're doing something wrong and try to do right. This underscores the message of the film: anyone can be anything: part of the problem or part of the solution. It depends on if they're willing to examine themselves and step up to try.
  • An intrepid Zootopia fan with knowledge of ASL has attempted to analyze Nick's hand signals in this thread. His hand signals are a combination of actual ASL, close-enough ASL, and educated guesses based on context which is presumed to say "Keep an eye out for me so I can sneak in, then you can escape quietly. Listen for my signal. Okay?" It's possible Nick may have studied ASL while preparing to become a Junior Ranger Scout. He could well have also learned it after. Nick is obviously well acquainted with a large variety of different animals of all sorts and their habits/idiosyncrasies. From Flash the DMV sloth to the bank lemmings and mice he sells his wares to and even mob bosses like Mr. Big and petty criminals like Weaselton. He gets along with all different types of people because he knows how to talk with them. It wouldn't be that hard to imagine he might have learned some basic signs in order to converse on a very basic level with deaf or hard-of-hearing clients. Even if they have interpreters, he's a man who would know that it makes a much bigger impression if you can speak to someone directly. And a city of millions in Zootopia is bound to have a sizeable population of deaf/hard-of-hearing mammals.
  • The wolves that capture Manchas are for more than just the Red Herring. The wolves react to howling like a reflex or a leftover instinct from their days as wild animals. This small detail plants doubt later, as the wolves demonstrate that some animals are subject to involuntary, primitive behaviors.
  • Manchas was clawed severely enough on the right side of his face to cause his eye to swell shut. When he is hit with the Night Howler pellet and goes savage, he ignores the swelling and opens his eye; however, watching him writhe on the ground during his transformation, you can see him continually pawing at his right eye in pain. Then the now savage and in-pain Manchas sees Nick and Judy and lashes out at them, probably feeling that they were the ones who just attacked him.
  • The preponderance of A Lizard Named "Liz" seems silly and rather immersion-breaking, until you realize that species-based surnames are the setting's equivalent of the occupation-based surnames so common in our world: Miller, Smith, Carpenter, Taylor, and so forth.
  • Why do Nick and Finnick choose a red popsicle for their hustle to sell? Many scientific studies prove that looking at the color red increases hunger. This is also why so many real fast-food chains (McDonald's, Wendy's, KFC, Burger King, etc.) have red logos.
  • Clawhauser is bursting with energy and enthusiasm and reliably accurate but has a hard time staying on task. Cheetahs in real life physically run very fast and then have to stop soon after. Clawhauser mentally follows the same pattern.
  • When Nick is seen with sunglasses and a coffee around the time that Mayor Lionheart is arrested, it makes sense why he'd have the sunglasses (they were his sunglasses, just in his pocket the whole time), but what about the coffee? Earlier scenes in the movie we see that Nick had no qualms about casually stealing items of little value like a handful of blueberries, so that coffee had to belong to some ZPD officer who set it down before heading inside.
  • The claw marks on Judy's face when Gideon scratches her don't look very severe; it doesn't even bleed and there's no sign of a scar when she's older. Many simply take this to be downplayed example of Bloodless Carnage, that is, that the wound was meant to be more severe than it looked but they couldn't show it bleeding because it's a Disney movie and there are kids in the audience. Going by this reasoning, many fanfics justify the lack of a scar by noting that it's hidden under her fur. However, it actually makes perfect sense that her injury would be exactly as mild as it looks when you consider that canids, including foxes, actually have fairly dull claws that are more suited for use as digging implements than as weapons. Ever been scratched by a dog? It actually makes sense that it wouldn't break all the way through the skin but would simply leave streaks of raw, inflamed skin in the path of the claws. Gideon was trying to use claws as a symbol of predator power, making a show of brandishing them before raking them across her face, but the actual natural weapons of a canid would only be the teeth and jaws. However, Gideon wasn't psychotic enough to use those on her.
  • Judy's pen plays a large role the film. She first uses it to record incriminating evidence on Nick, which in turn gets Nick to help her; she later gives it to Nick to write an application to be Zootopia's first fox police officer; and when they ultimately get Bellwether to confess to the Night Howler conspiracy, they record her doing so on the pen. The pen leads to a lot more positive progress than any violent means which Bellwether may have resorted to. The pen is mightier than the sword!
  • Lionheart doesn't just call Bellwether "Smell-wether" to be condescending. In reality, sheep have a very distinctive odor due to their production of lanolin, a wax secreted by the sebaceous glands of wool-bearing animals.
  • It's been confirmed that Doug Ramses attended the press conference posing as a reporter from Channel 9. Rewatching the scene, you can see the real reporter from Channel 9 is also in the crowd (near the pig who asks "Why is this happening?" and is also a ram (albeit with horns), making Doug's infiltration brilliantly plausible.
  • When Disney did their clever promotional posters featuring Zootopia characters in famous films (ie "Fifty Shades of Prey" or "Mad Yax"), one was for "Steve Paws" and the poster featured the character Michael Tanuyama, one of the alternate ZNN male newscasters created for the Japanese release. Having such an obscure character in the poster seemed an odd choice until you realize that Tanuyama is a Japanese raccoon dog, a species known for their disproportionately large testicles. Steve Jobs was known for having the balls to be able convince himself and others to believe almost anything (i.e. his Reality Distortion Field). This turns out to be a sublime case of Stealth Pun and Getting Crap Past the Radar.
  • In the wake of Gigantic's real-life cancellation, the "Weaselton exclusive" tag on Duke's bootleg version of it still oddly fits, since Duke is the only one "selling" it. It's likely a mockbuster that also adapted a giraffe version of Jack and the Beanstalk.
  • When Judy is riding the train through Zootopia at the beginning of the movie, it passes through Tundratown and you can see a building called "Fishtown Market". This is a possible reference to the famous real life "Fishtown" neighborhood in Philadelphia as well as the popular "Fishtown Market" located there.
  • A meta example: the film follows the adventures of a rabbit police officer. It's a bunny cop movie.
  • Possibly unintentional, but this here kind of justifies why Judy and Chief Bogo don't get along at first - ungulates (hoofed mammals) and lagomorphs (rabbit-like mammals) used to compete for food and ecological niches in general. The ungulates (especially even-toed ones) won and dominated in body size and diversity. It mirrors how Bogo's a chief while Judy as a newcomer is given meter-maid position. It doesn't end there either; during the film Judy has to deal with loud antelope neighbors and fight against sheep conspirators, which both are also even-toed ungulates.
  • Near the beginning, when Duke steals the "moldy onions", the flower shop owner runs right over to Judy, not even caring that she's obviously a meter maid. He REALLY wants those flowers back. As a botanist, he knows how dangerous those flowers could be in the wrong hands. Just letting a guy run off with that stuff could cause a lot of animals to go crazy!
  • During the protest scene, a pig snarls at a cheetah protester to "go back to the forest!" and she very indignantly responds "I'm from the savanna!" This is a parallel to things like confusing the various Asian countries' residents or assuming all people from a country know each other.
  • It's hard to see because of how fast she's moving, but when Judy is ticketing cars during her first day on parking duty, she scans the meters ahead of her from the hood of the car she just ticketed to see if any of them are flagged as expired, and then makes a brief stop at the expired meter before ticketing the car next to it. Rabbits are blue-green colorblind. Judy can't see the red on the "EXPIRED" meter flag, so she has to stop and double-check that it's up before issuing the parking ticket.
  • The "care-package" from Judy's parents is horribly speciesist, with several items specifically labeled specifically "fox-away", but a fox-taser actually makes sense. Labeling it as specifically for foxes is just speciesist marketing, but there would definitely be tasers of different sizes and strengths in a world where the population come in so many sizes. A taser designed for small rodents won't do anything against an elephant, and a taser or repellent meant for elephants would seriously injure if not kill a fox.
  • There's actually another reason ,besides the ruination of his political career, that has Mayor Lionheart so angry during the asylum scene. Dr. Honeybadger tells him that he needs to start considering that the affected predators might be reverting to their natural urges. She just told another predator, who is already worried about the crisis putting his career and possibly the safety of him and his family on the chopping block, that this was just something that all predators eventually did. She pretty much insulted him to his face. It's no wonder he completely loses his cool.
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