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By House PR – Media Brands & Entertainment public relations

In a unique poll organised by House PR and Empire Cinemas, the cheeky Donkey character from the hit Shrek movies scored the highest score of cinemagoers’ favourite animal character.

The research was carried out ahead of the release at the beginning of July of the new animated blockbuster, The Secret Life of Pets.

Empire Cinemas is the UK’s biggest independent chain of cinema theatres and the research was yet another sign of our unique relationship with our pets and other animals. And the producers of The Secret Life of Pets – Universal Pictures and Illumination Entertainment – are banking on this. The fact is, don’t we all really want to know what our pets are doing once we scuttle off to our day jobs and they are left home alone?

The animated comedy production, directed by Chris “Despicable Me 1 and 2” Renaud, is the fifth collaboration of the two companies and stars the voices of some of the biggest names in comedy – Kevin Hart, Louis C.K. and Eric Stonestreet, as well as Albert Brooks, Ellie Kemper, Hannibal Buress and Bobby Moynihan.

Jon Nutton is the Head of Marketing at Empire Cinemas and he says that animals come up time and again as moviegoers’ favourite characters, both in animated films such as The Jungle Book and real-life productions like Howard Bound. He also says that he expects The Secret Life of Pets to become a firm favourite that the whole family will enjoy.

The research into moviegoers’ tastes also highlighted the enduring appeal of other famous movie animal characters.

Simba from The Lion King came in at second place attracting over a quarter of all votes. However, this result is just an average of all respondents to the survey. For young adults, Simba scored a whopping 33% of votes cast.

The forgetful Dory of Finding Nemo and the soon to be released Finding Dory fame came in third position of favourite movie animal characters.

The recent film remake of Rudyard Kipling’s classic novel The Jungle Book also put Baloo the bear in the top five ranking, reminding us of the astonishing impact of the loveable character, an appeal that one can now say stretches over several decades.

The fascinating research also threw up differences in preferences based on the gender of respondents. 23% of female cinemagoers voted for Eeyore from Winnie The Pooh, 9% more than male cinemagoers. Female cinemagoers also voted more than twice as much compared to male cinemagoers for Marley from the hit film Marley and Me.