Carroll Ballard, director of The Black Stallion and Never Cry Wolf, presents another story of an unusual relationship between humans and animals in this drama. Xan (Alexander Michaletos) is a young boy who lives with his father and mother (Campbell Scott and Hope Davis) on a ranch in Kenya. One day, Xan and his folks discover a cheetah cub whose mother has died. With no one to care for the cat, Xan and his family take the cheetah under their wing, and after naming the cub "Dooms" (from "Duma," which means "male cheetah cub" in Swahili), Xan and his new friend become inseparable. However, Xan and his parents discover in time that nature doesn't always have a happy ending planned for a little boy. Duma was based on a book for children called How It Was With Dooms: A True Story From Africa, by Carol Cawthra Hopcraft and Xan Hopcraft, which told the story of Xan's real-life friendship with a cheetah.