Disney Based Simba from The Lion King on this Dallas Zoo Lion Cub
You don’t have to go to Africa to catch a glimpse of Hollywood history.
If you think baby Simba in the remake of The Lion King is cute, wait until you see the Texas lion cub Disney looked to in order to bring him to life.
Though the heir to the animal kingdom resides in Africa, in the recent reimagining of the animated classic, Simba’s appearance and movements were based on a lion cub at the Dallas Zoo named Bahati.
Bahati, whose full name is Bahati Moja, which means “lucky one” in Swahili, was just a month old when she contributed to the film two years ago. The Dallas Observer reports that the zoo documented its resident lions for close to a week. Video footage of baby Bahati helped Disney animators make Simba appear as realistic as possible.
“From walking on wobbly new legs, to licking milk droplets off of her face, we captured every moment, no matter how small,” Dallas Zoo wrote alongside a clip of the footage on Facebook.
“We just happened to have a cub at the right time when they were in that phase of the film,” Dallas Zoo spokesperson Kari Streiber told the Dallas Observer “So we were able to provide some reference points. Of course, we love to think we can see little bits of Bahati when we look at Simba now.”
“She looks a bit different than she did when she was a baby,” Streiber continued. “Bahati now weighs 260 pounds. She’s a full-grown lioness. She certainly doesn’t look like the video we submitted back then, but she’s beautiful.”
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If you’d like to see two-year-old Bahati in person, she can typically be found on warm days hanging around with her mom and her aunt in the zoo’s Wilds of Africa Exhibit—just don’t expect an autograph.