It annoys me a little to see The Wild described as a rip-off of Madagascar. Not that The Wild doesn't appear to be exactly the same movie, with more realistic, slightly creepier animation and seemingly less fun and humor. I'm just saying they didn't do it on purpose.
Surely Owen Gleiberman of Entertainment Weekly knows enough about movies to realize that animated films spend years in development, and The Wild couldn't possibly have been greenlit and fully produced in the short year since Madagascar was released. In fact, with The Wild's more detailed animation style, I wouldn't be surprised if it was in production before Madagascar. But by the time Madagascar came out, The Wild was a moving train and it was too late to stop.
Most writers know the pain of seeing one of their legitimately original ideas sold or executed first by someone else, and the constant fear that the same will happen with whatever new brilliant idea they're working on. Different people think of similar ideas. This is a fact.
The folks who made The Wild must have wanted to kill themselves when they saw Madagascar. No one would ever make a movie so similar on purpose, because, well, the result would be exactly what is happening to The Wild. The only way you would ever rip something off so directly is if you were sure you had a chance of making it to release first.
When you start with a certain idea and flesh it out, you find that there are certain story and character choices that just make logical sense, which is why two different writers can end up with amazingly similar products without anyone ever ripping the other off.
What I'm saying is that we should go easy on the makers of The Wild. They were second to market with an identical movie so inferior that people are heaping praise on Madagascar in hindsight. No one wants to see their movie and that is sad enough. We don't need to accuse them of plagiarism on top of it all.
They deserve our pity more than our scorn.