Where is this island?

Have to start by saying this is one of my favourite films and I watched it almost daily as a six-year-old, learning the whole thing off by heart (totally obsessive).

But even as a six-year-old, I was like: were they shipwrecked at a zoo?

Tiger and elephant - Asia.
Hyenas, zebra, ostrich and cheetah - Africa.
Anaconda and macaws - South America.

I know they were on their way to New Guinea and were jumped by Oriental pirates, so it would suggest Indian Ocean or South East Asia, but that's one heck of a 'landbridge'. And they even mention seeing a bear!

We need to find this island. There might be dodos there, or maybe even dinosaurs...


In the original story the island was in the East Indies, modern Indonesia.

the original story was about a Swiss family shipwrecked like Robinson Crusoe. Neither Johann David Wyss, who starter the story, nor his son Johann Rudolf Wyss, who finished it, said anything about the family's name being Robinson (which is a Scots name, not Swiss). Later translators and Walt Disney stretched the story to ridiculous extremes.


First, let me admit I've never read the novel; neither the original German nor an English translation.

Perhaps the translator(s) of Wyss' novel had a sense of humor and thought of the Daniel Defoe novel a century earlier, "Robinson Crusoe".


The site of the island was never mentioned in the novel and I read it many times. As I got older I questioned the extent of the Fauna in the book since most of the anumals represent most of the continents. I'm sure a giant snake never shared an island with a walrus. It does sound similar, very similar to Robinson Crusoe.Snow was never mentioned, only rain so it had to be in the tropics.


Asian elephants are Elephas Maximus and are found in Asia like tigers are.

African Elephants belong to the genus Loxodonta and are found in Africa, naturally, with hyenas, zebras, ostriches, and cheetahs.

You say that anacondas and macaws are found in South America, and that seems correct. But who says that the giant snake in the movie is an anaconda instead of an Asian python? Don't claim you can tell that the snake "actor" was actually an anaconda, because the nationality or even species of the "actor" is irrelevant to the plot. The nationality or species of the character is all that is important to the plot.

Just as human actors are often of different nationalities or races than their characters, animal "actors" are often of different species than their characters. But it is the species of the animal character, not the animal "actor", that is important to the plausibility of the story.

A goofy theory to justify the island fauna is the medieval geographical conception of the "Three Indias" that stretched from East Africa to southeast Asia & sometimes China & Japan. In 1165 a famous letter circulated in Europe claiming to be from Prester John, claiming to be the mighty Christian ruler of the Three Indias. So maybe in the fictional universe of Swiss Family Robinson Prester John had his capital on or near the island and brought exotic animals from all of the Three Indias (and maybe also the West India of the Americas) in his realm and the island still had descendants of some of those species. So if they had done some archaeology they might have discovered lost treasures of Prester John.

Or possibly the island was near Skull Island and shared some of its fauna..