Marty the zebra who lives the pampered life in the Central Park Zoo wishes on his tenth birthday to get out and see the world. He gets tips from escaping from the zoo's four penguins, who are also trying to escape. Realizing what is going on, Marty's friends, Alex the lion, Gloria the hippo, and Melman the giraffe, leave the zoo and find him in Grand Central Station trying to escape. The four animals soon get caught and shipped off to a preserve in Kenya, but the penguins hijacking the boat to head to Antarctica cause the animals to wind up in Madagascar and come across a clan of lemurs led by King Julien XIII.