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Alex the Lion is the king of the urban jungle as the main attraction at New York's Central Park Zoo. He and his best friends Marty the Zebra, Melman the Giraffe and Gloria the Hippo have lived their entire lives in blissful captivity, complete with lavish meals and their own park views. Not content to leave well enough alone, Marty allows his curiosity to get the better of him and, with the help of some prodigious penguins, makes his escape to explore the world he's been missing, intending to return before morning. Alex, Melman and Gloria manage to track Marty down in Grand Central Station, but before they can catch the train home, they are darted, captured, crated and put on a ship to Africa. Now, these native New Yorkers have to figure out how to survive in the wild and discover the true meaning of the phrase "It's a jungle out there."