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LOS ANGELES, Feb 26 (Reuters) - Animal cartoon "Zootopia," an exploration of bias through the comedic story of a bunny who becomes a police officer, won the Academy Award on Sunday for best animated feature film.

The movie from Walt Disney Co's Disney Animation Studios was one of year's biggest box-office hits, selling more than $1 billion in tickets worldwide.

"Zootopia" features the voice of Ginnifer Goodwin as Judy Hopps, a rabbit who leaves her small hometown to join the big-city police force. The family film tackles social issues as the residents of the animal metropolis are divided by prejudice and fear. Jason Bateman voices the role of a conniving fox.

The social commentary of "Zootopia" arrived in theaters as the United States grappled with issues of racism, sexism and inequality during the 2016 presidential campaign.

The filmmakers started developing "Zootopia" about five years ago with "this crazy idea of talking about humanity with talking animals, in hopes when the film came out it would make the world just a slightly better place," co-director Byron Howard said as he accepted the award.

Co-director Rich Moore said he was grateful to audiences around the world "that embraced this story of tolerance being more powerful than fear of the other."

The Oscar win for "Zootopia" extends a renaissance for Disney Animation Studios, watch arrow online free which took home the animation trophy in 2014 for "Frozen" and in 2015 for "Big Hero Six." "Zootopia" was co-directed by Byron Howard and Rich Moore.

"Zootopia" competed against another Disney Animation film, the musical "Moana" about a young Pacific island heroine. Other nominees were stop-motion film "Kubo and the Two Strings," Swiss drama "My Life as a Zucchini," and "The Red Turtle," a film with no dialogue, from Japan's Studio Ghibli. (Reporting by Lisa Richwine; Editing by Sandra Maler)

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