In celebration of the release of Disney’s The Lion King, The Walt Disney Company Africa, in collaboration with Hyundai Santa Fe, FNB and Attacq Foundation has launched The Lion King Screening Programme that will see up to 10 000 high school learners from under-served communities across the country experiencing the ground-breaking new film.

Facilitated by Youthstart Foundation, a division of youth development organisation Primestars, the students will be transported to Ster-Kinekor theatres in fourteen national centres over four weekends in August to experience the pioneering technology and breath-taking storytelling and visuals from the all-new film. The learners will be provided with a food pack donated by Makro as well as a cold drink and popcorn as they follow the adventure on the big screen.

The Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT) will also be participating in the screening programme by engaging the learners in a discussion on conservation in general, as well as the urgent issue of the plight of lions on the African continent. In the 25 years since Disney released the original version of The Lion King, half of the continent’s lion population has been lost, due to destruction of habitats, loss of prey and poaching. Today, it is estimated that only 20 000 lions currently remain.

In addition, each learner will be given a special-edition Lion King–themed information pack to take home. This pack contains informative breakdowns of the real-life animals they have seen brought to life in the film, delving into topics such as positive goal-setting, the “circle of life” and a special section where the learners can make their own conservation pledge. 

“We are thrilled to be launching this screening initiative with our partners and creating access for thousands of learners to see this exciting new film that is so rich with heritage and connections to this continent, be it through the characters and landscapes depicted or through the iconic music,” says Christine Service, Senior Vice President and Country Manager for The Walt Disney Company Africa. “Our hope is that this initiative will be one step towards inspiring and equipping a new generation of conservationists.”

In June, The Walt Disney Company launched a global conservation campaign to raise awareness of the crisis facing lions and other wildlife across Africa. The Lion King “Protect the Pride” campaign focuses on protecting and revitalizing lion populations and the habitats they need to thrive. Disney has already donated more than $1.5 million to the Wildlife Conservation Network’s (WCN) Lion Recovery Fund (LRF) and its partners and will make additional grants as well as invite fans to help double the donation for a total contribution of up to $3 million. Wildlife Conservation Network’s (WCN) Lion Recovery Fund’s vision to double the lion population by 2050.

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