In Central Park Zoo, Samson the Lion tells his son Ryan stories of his adventures in the wild. When the zoo closes, all the animals are free to roam. Samson, Benny, Bridget, Larry, and Nigel compete in a turtle curling championship while Ryan visits friends. Ryan accidentally causes a stampede which head to the game. Samson and Ryan have a falling-out and Ryan storms off before Samson can apologize. Ryan wanders into a green box and gets shipped away by a truck, which the legend tells will take him to the wild. With the help of a pigeon, Hamir, Samson and Benny go after him, sneaking into a garbage disposal truck with Nigel, Larry, and Bridget; Benny is accidentally thrown off the truck. After passing through Times Square and nearly being crushed in the garbage disposal, the group encounters a pack of rabid dogs. Samson leads them through the sewer rather than scaring them off. There, they take directions to the docks from two streetwise alligator brothers, Stan and Carmine. The next morning, the four friends steal a tugboat during a hectic escape from New York harbor. With help from Larry, they drive the boat and reunite with Benny, who has enlisted a flock of Canada geese to help lead the crew toward Ryan's ship. Days later, Nigel goes mad and, under the impression they have hit an iceberg, jumps overboard.