The Vallée des Singes

Movie Animal Kingdom: Let's Go Ape Jamel Debbouze (2015)
For his adaptation of Roy Lewis' novel The Evolution Man, or, How I Ate My Father into a motion-capture animation, Jamel Debbouze went to the Vallée des Singes to capture the behavior of primates.
The Vallée des Singes
Vallée des Singes - credit: JLPC on wikimedia commons

“I captured the fire, it became my very own buddy!”

Édouard (Jamel Debbouze)

In November 2011, nearly four years before the release of the film, Jamel Debbouze, along with other actors and the film crew, came to visit the Vallée des Singes to better understand the behavior of primates for their future roles.

Pourquoi j’ai pas mangé mon père is an animated film entirely shot in motion capture. Each actor is equipped with a suit that allows them to transcribe their movements into a 3D model that will be used for the animation of the feature film. It was therefore important for the film team to fully understand the behaviors of the different apes and nothing better than a visit to the Vallée des Singes to get a feel for the role.

Pourquoi j’ai pas mangé mon père tells the story of Edouard, a young simian rejected by his tribe at birth because of his puny appearance. He will discover the beginnings of human evolution with fire and hunting. He will become the leader of his people, not without difficulty.

During his visit to the park, Jamel was touched by the first monkey he met because it had a paralyzed arm like him. “It is Quasimodo, a hunchbacked ape” confirms Jean-Pascal Guéry, the zoological manager of the park.


Filmed on a 1615 sq ft set, 60 cameras were needed to correctly capture the different movements of the actors wearing their suits.

Jamel Debbouze during his visit to the Vallée des Singes
Jamel Debbouze during his visit to the Vallée des Singes – Credit: facebook page of Jamel Debbouze
Scene Why didn't I eat my father
Why didn’t I eat my father scene – Credit : Pathé Distribution

La Vallée Des Singes

The Vallée des Singes is a zoological park specialized in primates with 30 different species presented.

Wim Mager opened the park of the Vallée des Singes on July 14, 1998. The great particularity of the latter, unlike other zoological parks, is the semi-liberty of the species. Indeed, on the 16 hectares of the place, the different primates are on about fifteen different islands surrounded by water, avoiding to lock them in cages.

The park presents 30 different species of primates, from the small pygmy marmoset to the big gorilla and the bonobo. It is also the first zoo in France to present this species since 2011.

Go there

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By Damien Biju

Monday, January 17, 2022

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