By Keith Staskiewicz
Updated May 21, 2010 at 10:28 PM EDT

There are approximately 1.4 million identified species on the planet Earth. About 1.3 million of those have already been featured in a CGI-animated movie. The new trailer for 20th Century Fox’s Rio, a family film about a pair of rare blue macaws who lam it to Brazil, made me stop and think: What is it about CGI movies that make Hollywood get all obsessively zoological? (See trailer after the jump.)

Here’s a list just off the top of my head: Penguins, pandas, ants, pigeons, fish, rats, sharks (okay, technically fish), giraffes, lemurs, raccoons, woolly mammoths, elephants, dogs, bees, cows, lions, tigers, and bears. Oh, my. That’s honestly enough to stock a zoo, and not just one of those depressing ones that’s just a some ducks, an ant farm and a single, sad lion named Horace with patchy fur and a urinary tract problem. Obviously there’s a long history of great animated movies about animals, from Bambi to Ratatouille, but it seems like nowadays with the exception of Pixar movies like The Incredibles and Up, there’s hardly ever any people.

You could argue that the words “animal” and “animate” both come from the same Latin root, anima, and thus they naturally belong together. But back in the days of traditional, hand-drawn animation, it felt like the balance was at least a little more equal. You’d have your mouse detectives and your rescuers, but you’d also have your little mermaids and a whole bevy of princesses. Is there something about computer animation that just begs for a fast-talking alpaca voiced by Chris Tucker or a wiseacre capybara voiced by Adam Sandler? What do you think, PopWatchers? Are there any animals left for animators to mine?