Ryan, a lion cub, worships his father, Sampson (Kiefer Sutherland), the brawny, brave, uncontested king of a New York City zoo. The film opens as Ryan listens adoringly as Sampson recounts yet another tale of roaring wildebeests into submission on the African savannah. While the zoo animals cavort, Ryan slips into a metal crate bound overseas for a chance to see "the wild" for himself. Now Sampson, with the help of his loyal friends Benny the squirrel (James Belushi), Nigel the koala bear (Eddie Izzard), Bridget the giraffe (Janeane Garafalo), and Larry the snake (Richard Kind), must brave the New York City jungle and then the actual jungle to save his son from the clutches of a crazed wildebeest with aspirations to carnivorousness (William Shatner). To make things worse, Sampson confesses that his heroic stories were fabrications; he's completely lost in his wild surroundings, unable to fight off a rabid poodle or eat a sassy hyrax.