Fun Facts About the Lion King Characters

Fun Facts about your favourite Lion King characters to roar about…

Disney has just released the new edition of “The Lion King” and we are beyond excited!

So, we thought we will celebrate in the best way possible by sharing with you a bunch of exciting facts to sink your teeth into. We are focusing on some of the all-time favourites, (not to exclude some other very significant characters!)

The Lion King glorifies the best qualities of Africa – the wildlife, breath-taking scenery and captures its warm and unique spirit beautifully.

Get ready to find out more about the incredible animals of Mufasa, Simba, Rafiki, Pumba, Timon and Sarabi, as we let you in on some interesting and unexpecting facts about lions and lionesses, warthogs and meerkats and not forgetting mandrills.

Simba – Lion Cubs

Simba translates to ‘lion’ in Swahili and alongside Nala, is one of the most cheeky and lovable characters. As any typical cub, Simba is very playful and loves to test the boundaries (just like when he enters the hyena land.)  Here are some of our favourite facts about lion cubs:

  • Cubs start walking at around 10 to 15 days after birth
  • Cubs first open their eyes between 3 to 11 days after birth
  • Fully grown: 3-4 years
  • Hunting skills achieved: 2 years
  • Weaning: Starts at 10 weeks, complete by 10 months.

Cubs are totally dependent on their mother – Helpless and Vulnerable

Like most baby animals, cubs are born helpless, blind and away from the pride in dense cover. The mother leaves to give birth in a safe environment and lives in isolation for around 4-8 weeks. Cubs are very vulnerable to various different predators, especially at their young age. This is why the mother finds a safe hiding place. As the cubs are still newly born, the mother picks cubs up with her mouth to transport them. It’s not plain sailing for a new lioness mother, as she must hunt to maintain her health and milk supply, leaving the cubs alone, which is a dangerous game, due to these cubs being so vulnerable.

It is a risky business if a male lion decides to show dominance and takes over a pride. In the event of the previous male lions being kicked out of the pride, the new dominant male will kill all the cubs, from the past male, so they have their own cubs with the lionesses. (Nature can sure be cruel!)

It’s not just the biological mother who feeds these cubs

All the lactating females in the pride will feed the cubs, not just the mother. This is because each lioness is enhancing her own genes’ success by helping raise the offspring. Cubs start to eat meat at around 3 months old and weaned at around 6 months old.

What happens to the cubs as they get a little older?

As any growing lion, these cubs need to learn how to hunt. They learn these vital skills from their mothers. The fathers do not play a paternal role in the upbringing of these cubs. (Credit due to the lionesses for solely raising these babies!)

But, young male cubs, in particular, do not have a safe lifetime membership to the pride they are born into. Young male cubs are forced out of the pride at around 2 years old. At this point, they form ‘bachelor groups’ and follow migrating prides, until they are strong enough to challenge other males for their pride.

Mufasa – Male Lion

The King of the jungle, who symbolizes strength and courage. There is no better way to demonstrate this than through the magnificent Mufasa. The wise and idealistic king of Pride Rock so devastatingly killed by the evil Scar (we sobbed and sobbed at this part!) Mufasa may have only appeared in the Lion King for a short while, however, left an enduring memory in all of our hearts. Check out our favourite facts about the mighty male lion:

A loving father – Not so much in the wild

The movie portrays Mufasa as a loving father to Simba. However, this paternal role does not exist in the wild. A male lion does not play a part in a cub’s upbringing.

A lion’s mane can tell us a lot about an individual lion

Male lions are recognized by their characteristic mane, around their neck and shoulders. The mane is a key for identifying the location and environment of an individual lion, through the size, colour and extension.  The mane is also vital for protecting the neck when fighting with a challenger.

Alongside the darkness of the back legs and the colour of the nose, the mane is a good indication of a lion’s age. The darkness of a male lion’s mane is also an indication of their testosterone levels. The darker the mane the higher the level of testosterone.

The power of a male lion can be heard and seen in extraordinary ways

A male lion is renowned for his bellowing roar. But, did you know that this roar can be heard from up to 8 km away? But it is not just a male lion’s roar that is impressive. A lion can run-up to the speed of 81 km/h!

What makes a lion’s whiskers so special?

Each lion has a small spot at the base of each of their whiskers as the spots aren’t on the whiskers. This is the same as a human’s fingerprint. Whiskers are often used to identify a lion.

Pumbaa- Warthog

Warthogs have been brought into our hearts by one of our all-time favourites, who never fails to make us laugh – The one and only Pumbaa. Pumbaa (appropriately named) means to be foolish, silly and weak-minded. A warthog’s nature matches this stereotype pretty well.

Scientific name

Phacocherus Africanus

The character of a Warthog

With their rather odd exterior, with a huge head in comparison to its smaller body and impressive set of large tusks. They have behavioural patterns to match. Entering a burrow backwards, trotting around with its tail up in the air. With its large rubbery snout to rustle up some roots for lunch.

What about their tusks?

Tusks are enlarged canine teeth. Warthogs use these for digging, fighting and defending themselves against predators. There are a lot of predators who prey on warthogs, including lions, leopards, cheetahs, hyenas and wild dog (remember the scene where Nala spots Pumbaa for the first time?) 

Warthogs are cheeky!

These funny animals sleep in burrows that they steal from other animals, they do not dig their own (imagine arriving back at your house to find a warthog has made itself at home there!)

Rafiki – Mandrill

The voice of truth with a deep spiritual connection, Rafiki is the ultimate guide and uses wisdom as his most powerful tool. Respected and influential, Rafiki is a vital element to the storyline.

Although he is referred to as a baboon. But, take a closer look and you will see the colourful features of a mandrill pop out.

What makes mandrills so unique?

They are the largest of all monkeys and also extremely colourful. Mandrills are easily identifiable by the blue and red skin on their faces. These vibrant and distinctive colours become even brighter when the animal is excited. Males have the brightest and most distinctive colours on their faces, which makes them more attractive to females.

Mandrills have large cheek pouches inside of their mouths, which are used to carry food. They have extremely long canine teeth, which can be over 5 centimetres long and used for self-defence.

Mandrills communicate in very unique ways, through scent marks, vocalization and body language.

The main threats to Mandrills are birds of prey and large snakes, particular to the mandrill young.

Timon – Meerkat

Super adorable, big-eyed and bushy-tailed, these little creatures are some of the cutest species in Africa. Their funny tendencies, demonstrated so successfully by the brilliant Timon, gives them such character. Here are our top facts about meerkats:

Scientific name:

Suricata suricatta

A Meerkats home

Meerkats dig burrows for protection and also to keep them cool from the hot sun.

These burrows can be metres long with multiple different entrances and tunnels. A group will use up to five separate burrows at any time.

Body language of a Meerkat

A meerkat’s body language is seen through its tail. If another mob of meerkats try to invade their territory, they will raise their tails and assume their ‘war dance’ to deter invading mobs from their territory.

Sarabi – Lioness

Behind every great lion, is a great lioness. A quiet character in the background of the storyline. As the queen of the Pride Land, Sarabi plays a very important role in her son, Simba’s life, like any other lioness in the wild. Check out just how important lionesses are in the wild:

The real bread winners

Females do 85-90% of the prides’ hunting, while the male lions go on patrol of the territory to protect their pride. Lionesses are smaller and more agile than males. As their prey is usually faster than them, it generally requires teamwork to bring down an animal. They form a semi-circle with the smaller and weaker lionesses herding the prey towards the centre. The stronger females then knock the animal down and make the kill.

Lionesses usually hunt at night, with their prey consisting of antelope, buffaloes, zebra, young elephant, rhinos, hippos, giraffes.

After the lionesses have made the kill, the meal is shared amongst the pride. However, there is a pecking order, with the most dominant lions getting the first meal. The lioness might not even have killed the animal herself, but instead stolen a kill from another carnivore, such as a hyena, wild dog or a leopard.

They have amazing night vision and are 6 times more sensitive to light than humans, giving them a huge advantage over some prey species when hunting at night.

Still very reliant on the males in the pride

Females prefer a large coalition of males in the pride, to reduce the number of cubs lost in the event of another male lion taking over. More males in the pride also provides strength in numbers, which gives them a longer tenure.

What do lions do during the day?

Sleep (mostly!)  With few sweat glands, they tend to save their energy in the day by resting and only hunt at night. They spend between 16 – 20 hours a day resting and sleeping.

The Lion King presents Africa in the most incredible way. But nothing can beat experiencing it for yourself! We have something on offer for everyone, get in touch today!

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