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Animalympics is a 1980 animated film produced by Lisberger Studios and Warner Bros. Feature Animation. Originally commissioned by the NBC network as two separate specials, it spoofs the Summer and Winter Olympic Games, and features the voices of Billy Crystal, Gilda Radner, Harry Shearer and Michael Fremer.

Plot summary

The movie is a series of vignettes presented as the broadcast of the first animal Olympic Games through the fictional ZOO television network. Because of the combination of the two short cartoons, the Games combine both summer and winter Olympic events. Many of the characters presented, both ZOO crewmembers and Olympic participants, are celebrity caricatures.

Unlike the real Olympics, continents are represented rather than countries. The continents featured are North America, South America, Eurasia, Europe, Africa, and Asia. Eurasia represented Eastern Europe (in particular, Russiamarker then the Soviet Unionmarker), reflecting the Summer Olympics scheduled to be held in Moscow, whereas Europe represented Western and Central Europe. South America is only briefly represented in soccer. The only reference to Australia is the use of a kangaroo as a North American boxer and a koala as a commentator.

The only mention of areas other than continents are the New Yorkmarker Rats soccer team, Dean Wilson being from Californiamarker, a Central American marathon runner named Pepe Repanosa, marathon runner Terry Hornsby being from Boulder, Coloradomarker, Renee Fromage being from Francemarker, and Kurt Wüfner appearing at the downhill event right before a Scandinavian is given a gold medal.

Although many of the segments could easily stand alone, there are a number of recurring events and important characters. The largest such story is the coverage of the marathon, where competitors René Fromage (a Frenchmarker goat) and Kit Mambo (an African lioness) are the favorites to win. Both determined to win — Fromage having devoted his entire life to the marathon, Mambo determined to make a name for herself — they find themselves surprised when their minds wander to thoughts of mutual admiration and then to love, culminating in the pair holding hands for the rest of the race and crossing the finish line together. Another important story is that of Kurt Wüffner, Germanmarker dachshund skier, and his disappearance to Dogra-la (a spoof of Shangri-la) during a mountain climbing expedition shortly after the slalom event.

In various parts of the film, references to past medalists and athletics are indicated. Because it is clearly stated that it is the first Animalympics, the highlights of other events must be from other events such as world championships. In fact, figure skater Dorrie Turnell is indicated as having won the Junior World Championship.


Originally commissioned by the NBC Television Network in 1978, it was produced as two separate shows intended to air along with the network's 1980 winter and summer Olympics coverage. However, only the half-hour winter show made it to the small screen, as the Soviet Invasion of Afghanistan caused President Jimmy Carter to boycott the Moscow Summer Olympics. As America stayed away, NBC canceled its Olympic coverage, and Lisberger's hour-long companion special along with it. However, from its conception, producer Donald Kushner and director Steven Lisberger intended the project as a feature-length theatrical release. The resulting version, recorded and mixed in Dolby surround sound via magnetically-striped 35mm film, had its debut at the 1980 Miami Film Festival, where it was well-received. It was released in various countries overseas during the summer season that same year.

Though it never found a theatrical distributor in the U.S., Animalympics was soon acquired by Warner Bros. for home video and pay-TV release. The movie aired in summer 1984 on HBO and Showtime nationwide, and also on Philadelphia's PRISM.

Considering that the film was produced in 1979, several music-video-like sequences accompany its soundtrack by 10cc's bassist Graham Gouldman, uncommon at the time.

Among those who worked on Animalympics were art director/animator Roger Allers, animation director Bill Kroyer, and animator Brad Bird. Allers, who animated Kit Mambo, the lion star of Animalympics, appropriately went on to direct The Lion King. Kroyer later wrote and directed the animated feature FernGully: The Last Rainforest. Brad Bird went on to work as story editor of The Simpsons, and later achieved even greater success writing and directing The Iron Giant, The Incredibles and Ratatouille.

Director Lisberger went on to conceive, co-write and direct the science fiction classic Tron, which some of the Animalympics crew were involved in. Its soundtrack supervisor was Michael Fremer, who was involved in Animalympics as a co-writer, voice artist, dialogue/music track editor and sound mix supervisor.


ZOO Network Staff
  • Henry Hummel (anchorturtle)
  • Sol Terry (cameraman)
  • Jim Panzi (cameraman)
  • Don Osterizer (executive producer)
  • Randy Grabatelli (network director)
  • Woody Hutchinson (sound technician)
  • Gary Mathers (tape editor)
  • Manny Fingers (statistician)
  • Burnt Woody (announcer)

  • Art Antica (figure skating)
  • Bjorn Freeborg (skiing)
  • Jackie Fuelit (100 meter dash)
  • Mark Spritz (aquatics)
  • Cora Lee Perrier (gymnastics)
  • Bernard Drulinger
  • Melé (weightlifting, soccer)
  • Barbara Warblers (marathon, figure skating)
  • Rugs Turkell (track & field, boxing, hockey)
  • Keen Hacksaw (gymnastics, bobsledding)
  • Brenda Springer (aquatics, skiing)

  • Mamo Ululu (Kit Mambo)
  • Toulouse LaTrac (René Fromage)
  • Bruno Ursakov (Tatyana Tushenko)
  • Bear McClain (Kodiaks)
  • Greg Hamm (Dogs)
  • Robert Piggwood (Dorrie Turnell), manager

Other non-competitors
  • Burt Sparks (reigning Mr. Heavyweight until the title is transferred to Disavensky).
  • Enrico Poochie (athletic wear designer)
  • Boris King (chef)

  • Marathon
    • René Fromage (Europe)
    • Kit Mambo (Africa)
    • Sophia Bongiarelli (Europe)
    • Pepé Repanoza (Central America)
    • Terry Hornsby (North America)
    • Packy Joe Huffup
  • Gymnastics
    • Tatyana Tushenko (Eurasia)
    • Isla Blintz (Europe)
    • Bruce Kwakimoto (Asia)
    • Ludmilla Steponyatova (Eurasia)
  • Figure Skating
    • Olga Cluckinsky (Eurasia)
    • Nikita Crawlinoff (Eurasia)
    • Dorrie Turnell (North America)
  • Track and Field
    • Boris Amphibiensky (Europe)
    • Bolt Jenkins (North America)
    • Kip Ngogo (Africa)
    • Yuri Trotsky (Eurasia)
    • Cosmo Hopper (Europe)
  • Skiing
    • Marcel Pourceau (Europe)
    • Kurt Wuffner (Europe)
    • Jimmy Ribbit (North America)
  • Bobsled
    • Commander Lance Quiller and his team (Australia)
    • Calamari Brothers (Europe)
  • Swimming
    • Ono Nono (Asia)
    • Sergei Wedgenekov (Eurasia)
    • Art Hotworth (Europe)
    • Giancarlo Calamari (Europe)
    • Dean Wilson (North America)
  • Diving
    • Dean Wilson (North America)
    • Primo Cabeza (South America)
  • Boxing
    • Joey Gongolong (North America)
    • Janos Brushteckel (Eurasia)
  • Weightlifting
    • Ivan Disaventsky (Eurasia)
    • Wilhelm Cvet (Europe)
  • Fencing
    • Count Maurice Boar Deaux (Europe)
    • Duke Charolas (Europe)
    • Contessa (Eurasia)
  • Water Polo
    • Giancarlo Calamari (Europe)
    • Sergei Wedgenekov (Eurasia)
  • Soccer
    • The New York Rats (North America)
      • Whiz Rizzo
    • The Llamas (South America)
    • The Dogs (Europe)
      • Rolf Schmecker
      • Frank Wiener
      • Hans Wulf
  • Volleyball
    • The Wings (Europe)
    • The Stuffers (Asia)
  • Basketball
    • North America
      • Dr. Abdul Jones, Larkin, Jackson
    • Eurasia
      • Pavel Shotsky
  • Hockey
    • Kodiaks (North America)
      • Guy La Fluke
      • Harry
      • Derek
    • Shorthorns (Eurasia)
      • Chubs


Soundtrack in US and German issue.
A&M Records released an Animalympics soundtrack album, which has long been out of print.


Various companies released Animalympics on VHS in the U.S. and Europe during the 1980s and 1990s. The German distributor Alive released a Region 2 DVD on October 5, 2007, containing the original English version and a German dub. However, there are no plans for a U.S. or British edition.

Alternate versions

  • Throughout the 1990s, Animalympics was shown occasionally on the Disney Channel, albeit with several edits, both to make the movie more family friendly and to edit jokes that are considered "offensive."

  • Fans of the original specials have also re-edited the combined film into a close approximation of the original Winter/Summer games as separate films, and have been showing them at science fiction conventions since the 1980s.

See also


  1. Animalympics - Trailer - Cast - Showtimes - New York Times
  2. Animalympics: Summer Olympics - Trailer - Cast - Showtimes - New York Times
  3. Zeek: Simulacra, Simulation and Science Fiction
  4. - Biography - Graham Gouldman
  5. Roger Allers - Movies, Movie Clips and Trailers
  6. Interview - Brad Bird for "The Incredibles"
  7. Animalympics at Keyframe - the Animation Resource

External links

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