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Hey, I know that critter!

Kevin James may get top billing, but July 8’s talking-animal flick ”Zookeeper” (rated PG) is packed with a menagerie of nonhuman actors you might recognize from previous roles. We spoke with trainer Mark Forbes about working with these stars

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Crystal the Monkey
Plays Donald (voiced by Adam Sandler)
Also appeared in The Hangover Part II, Dr. Dolittle, Night at the Museum, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. ”Crystal’s just an exceptional monkey,” says Forbes of the prolific primate, the biggest star of the bunch. ”She’s like a person in a little monkey suit. She’s just so safe [around] everyone — even new people and kids. And that, coupled with the fact that there isn’t much that she’s afraid of, makes her great to work with.”

Ricky the Wolf
Plays Sebastian (voiced by Bas Rutten)
Also appeared in Sin City, The Chronicles of Narnia. Ricky, like many wolves hired for movies, is actually a hybrid: 70 percent wolf and 30 percent malamute dog. Using this type of crossbreed is a safety measure that ”enables you to do a bit more around people,” says Forbes. ”With a lot of the animals, we had to do some scenes split screen, but Ricky’s friendly, so we were able to do the whole wolf scene with him right there with Kevin.”

Taureg the Lioness
Plays Janet (voiced by Cher)
Also appeared in The Happening, Secondhand Lions, CSI: NY. Since the animals in Zookeeper converse with James, Forbes had to make sure their eye lines matched up with the actor’s. Getting Taureg to look where they wanted was a perpetual challenge. ”We have to do something off screen that interests her,” he says. ”Whether it’s a trainer running around with a plastic bag or someone off in the distance with a stuffed animal. Every [trick] works exactly once, and then you have to come up with something else for the next take.”

Felix the Lion
Plays Joe (voiced by Sylvester Stallone)
Also appeared in Prey, Evan Almighty, and various commercials. ”In the wild, male lions don’t do much,” says Forbes. ”They sit around and let the females do the work. So when working with a male [on a movie], you have to baby him more. Whereas Taureg has drive and is interested in doing what you want, Felix is lazier and more of a prima donna.”

Rosie the Elephant
Plays Barry (voiced by Judd Apatow)
Also appeared in Evan Almighty, Larger Than Life. Apparently an elephant never forgets her cues. ”She would always hit her mark,” says Forbes. ”Once, she flapped her ears, and the director said, ‘Oh, I love that. Get her to do that.’ When they came back the next morning, she had learned to do it on cue in one night.”