Here's a Quick Explainer About Who and What Vivo Is in 'Vivo'

In the animated musical 'Vivo,' Lin-Manuel Miranda is the voice of the title character, who's a kinkajou. Here's an explainer on what that means.

Toni Sutton - Author

Aug. 6 2021, Published 11:33 p.m. ET

Gabi showing the girl scouts Vivo.
Source: Netflix

Spoiler Alert: This article contains spoilers for Vivo.

Sony Pictures Animation's first animated musical, Vivo, premiered on Aug. 6 on Netflix. The film takes viewers on a journey from the streets of Havana, Cuba, to the swampy everglades in Florida and the bustling city of Miami as the main character Vivo takes off on a heartfelt expedition with a mistaken girl named Gabi (Ynairaly Simo). The voice of Vivo is actor and award-winning composer Lin-Manuel Miranda, who's best known for his hit musicals Hamilton and In the Heights.

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Lin-Manuel was also an executive producer for the film and wrote eight original songs for the animated musical. Per NBC, during a recent screening for the movie, he said, "I am so glad that your kids now will all get to hear the thing that has been playing on a loop in my house for years." He also shared that this latest project is his kids' "favorite thing I've ever worked on."

Vivo reading the letter that Marta sent to Andrés.
Source: Netflix
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At first glance, Lin-Manuel's cute little character, Vivo, kind of looks like a monkey, but he's actually a kinkajou. A kinka-who? Keep reading to find out what a kinkajou is and why Vivo travels to Miami.

What exactly is a kinkajou? And why's Vivo in Miami?

The film centers around Vivo, a young kinkajou that performs music with his dear friend Andrés (Juan de Marcos González) in the streets of Havana. So if you didn't know, even though a kinkajou appears to be a cross between a monkey and a bear, they are actually members of the raccoon family that are tropical rainforest mammals native to Central and South America. They're sometimes referred to as "honey bears" because they like to raid bees' nests to slurp honey from the hives with their tongues.

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So, why did Vivo leave his home? One day Andrés receives a letter in the mail from his former duet partner and old friend Marta (Gloria Estefan). Marta, who’s now a famous singer in Miami, writes to Andrés because she wants him to unite with her on stage for one last show. Andrés tells his pal Vivo about the unspoken love he’s always had for Marta and plans to go to Miami to be with Marta.

Andrés  and Vivo singing in square.
Source: Netflix
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However, Vivo doesn’t want him to go, but the night before Andrés is supposed to leave, he sadly dies in his sleep. Vivo then decides that he’s going to Miami to find Marta and share with her the beautiful love song that Andrés had written for her many years ago. Vivo recruits Andrés’s grand-niece Gabi, a head-strong, purple-hair perky tween who’s a bit of misfit.

Together on this wild adventure, Vivo and Gabi will learn about one another and discover the power of music as the universal language of love, family, and friendship.

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Here's a quick warning if your child is already asking for a kinkajou as a pet.

While these rainforest-dwelling animals are small and super cute, having a kinkajou as a pet is a bad idea. While it's not legal or illegal to own one as a pet, they are wild animals that have been known to scratch, bite, and injure their owners. In 2011, NBC reported that a 16-year-old girl in Chattanooga, Tenn., was rushed to the hospital with severe headaches, horrible stomach pains, and a high fever.

Gabi and Vivo looking to sail along a river.
Source: Netflix
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The doctors couldn't figure out what was wrong with the teen until she told them that she had been bitten by her aunt's pet, a kinkajou, the day before. According to Everday Health, it can be rather difficult to imitate their rainforest environment. Also, their new surroundings put them at risk for disease and can also ruin the quality of their lives. So as cute as Vivo is in the movie, it's not in anyone's best interest to keep a kinkajou as a pet.

Vivo is now available to stream on Netflix.

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