Meerkat Manor: The Story Begins is a 2008 television film created by Discovery Films and Oxford Scientific Films as a prequel to the Animal Planet series Meerkat Manor. A scripted documentary narrated by Whoopi Goldberg, the film details the life of a meerkat named Flower from birth to her becoming the leader of a meerkat group called the Whiskers. The film is based on the research notes of the Kalahari Meerkat Project and primarily uses wild meerkat "actors" to represent those in the story. Shot over two years at the Kuruman River Reserve in Northern Cape, South Africa, the film employed a much larger crew than the series. Some scenes were shot at a wildlife park in the United Kingdom, while others were created using camera tricks and trained film animals. The 75-minute film premiered at the 2008 Tribeca Film Festival before its television premiere on Animal Planet on May 25, 2008. While it was praised for its cinematography, for maintaining the depth of coverage of the television series, and for its accessibility to newcomers to the series, it was criticized for not offering anything new to fans.