One of Disney’s classics, the Lion King movie has inspired many trips to East Africa. Learn more about five major species featured in the film (besides lions, of course)!

1. Warthog 

One half of “The Lion King’s dynamic comedy duos is Pumbaa, the warthog. True to the movie, warthogs are foragers eating worms, bugs, plants, roots, and berries. Though only about 2.5 feet tall, these sturdy creatures weigh anywhere from 120-250 pounds. They are also surprisingly speedy, running up to 30 mph when trying to escape a predator. They’ll run into their underground dens backwards and use their tusks to defend themselves. Their tusks can grow to be nearly a foot long – so watch out! Warthogs are found all over Sub-Saharan Africa, so there’s a good chance you’ll spot one of Pumbaa’s relatives on safari.

2. Meerkat

The other half of the dynamic duo, Timon, is a meerkat. Though unlike in the movie, meerkats don’t live alone. Instead, they live in large communities within burrows of connected tunnels underground. Meerkats are also insect lovers, eating centipedes, spiders, and scorpions, but also lizards, snakes, and fungi. With such dangerous options to choose from, it’s helpful that they are immune to certain scorpion and snake venoms. Unfortunately, these cuties are native to Southern Africa, but you may spot one of their close relatives, the banded Mongoose, in East Africa!

3. Hyena

Despite their dog-like appearance, hyenas are actually more closely related to meerkats like Timon! Shenzi, Banzai, and Ed are spotted hyenas, famous for their laugh-like calls. While in the movie hyenas are noted for being scavengers, it is actually the striped hyena which is more likely to try to steal a lion’s meal. However, since spotted hyenas and lions share much of the same territory and hunt the same prey, they are natural adversaries and hyenas will go after lion cubs. Both spotted and striped hyenas are relatively common in East Africa, in fact the striped hyena’s range extends all the way to Asia, so you’re likely to see on safari!

4. Mandrill

While in the movie Rafiki is referred to as a baboon, he is actually a mandrill – the largest and most colorful monkey in the world. Mandrills are closely related to baboons and are often referred to as “forest baboons” because their preferred habitat is rainforest. For this reason, you’re unlikely to spot one on safari in East Africa, but keep an eye out for the related yellow baboon!

5. African red-billed hornbill

Zazu is a red-billed hornbill which, unlike Zazu, have spotted black or grey coloring rather than blue. However, their bright red bills make them stand out. They mostly hang out in small family units, but can be found in the hundreds near watering holes and feeding areas. You may not even need to break out the binoculars to see one as they are also known for becoming quite used to human company, sometimes frequenting lodge restaurants around mealtime!