This Lion Cub Was The Model For Baby Simba In The ‘Lion King’ Remake
Posted July 25, 2019 8:45 p.m. EDT
Updated July 4, 2020 8:00 a.m. EDT
Disney’s got a certified summer blockbuster with the remake of “The Lion King”: It’s made almost half a billion dollars at the box office in only a couple weeks. And one real-life lion cub had a hand — er, a paw — in the movie’s success by helping filmmakers re-create baby Simba for the film.
The Dallas Zoo recently shared that one of their lion cubs, Bahati, provided real-life reference for Disney’s animators. The Disney team observed Bahati’s movements and behaviors to make their infant version of Simba 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,” said the post.
Bahati Moja was born in 2017 to mom Lina and dad Kamau. Her name means “Lucky One” in Swahili — because she was born on St. Patrick’s Day!
She also was the first lion cub born at the Dallas Zoo in 43 years, after a planned C-section.
Here’s a news report — featuring curious baby-kitty steps! — about Bahati’s first day on exhibit, from Dallas station WFAA:
In another video, posted by the Dallas Zoo, the staff celebrates Bahati’s first birthday. Carnivore supervisor Lora Baumhardt gets emotional talking about the latest addition to their lion pride.
“If I could describe Bahati in one word, it would be ‘wild,'” says Baumhardt. “My favorite thing about Bahati is the way she’s brought our team together.”
Does any of this adorableness look familiar, “Lion King” fans?
Bahati’s baby videos were used for the movie, but she’s somewhat of a local celebrity in her own right. She and her mom, Lina, helped “pick the winner” of the 2018 Super Bowl by selecting a frozen treat decorated in New England Patriots colors. (The Philadelphia Eagles ended up winning, but it was a good try.)
Then, in March 2019, she celebrated her second birthday with a cupcakes-and-shamrocks birthday bash. Cameras captured Bahati frolicking with other females in her pride and having a great time, according to this video posted by the Dallas Zoo:
She’s growing up right in front of our eyes. And now when you see “The Lion King” you can tell your friends, “Hey! I know that lion!”