Wildlife TV

Learn interesting and funny plant and animal facts with videos and photos

Pumbaa: What Disney didn’t tell you

on May 4, 2013

The Lion King is one of the top best animation films of all times and for a good reason.
Disney tells us this heart warming story of a young lion tricked by his uncle into thinking that he was the reason his father died. As he runs to exile he meets this two erratic but trustworthy friends, Timon and Pumbaa, and adventure ensues.
Although this amazing film is almost 20 years old (yes, you read that well, 20 years old!) I can honestly say that I do not know a single person unable to sing “Hakuna Matata” without getting all excited.

Lion King: Hakuna Matata

Hakuna Matata

Disney brings us to this imaginary african land where lions are kings, hyenas are part of an evil army, Rafiki the mandrill is a wise friend, Zazu the red-billed hornbill is the king’s majordomo and the rest of the african animals are part of the realm controlled by the king, Mufasa.
Along the way we also meet Timon the meerkat and Pumbaa the warthog who almost steal the show with their charisma throughout the film.

Today I would like to focus our attention on Pumbaa, the warthog whose name means “to be foolish, silly, weak minded, careless, negligent” in Swahili.

The Lion King: Pumbaa & Timon

Pumbaa and Timon

Warthogs (Phacochoerus africanus) are from the same family as common pigs and the similarities between both species are easy to identify.
Unlike domestic pigs (Sus scrofa domesticus), warthogs live only in Sub-Saharan Africa where they co-exist with many other African species.
They live in social groups called “sounders” which comprises of a few females and their piglets; males approach and join the group during female estrous but don’t stay to raise and protect the young so if you see a few adult warthogs with piglets chances are you are looking at females.

But what happens if you see two adult warthogs and no piglets around? How can you tell which is the female and which is the male?
The easiest and most obvious way is to look at their warts. Males have 2 sets of warts on their face, one close to the tusks and one close to the eyes that offers protection to this area while fighting other males. Females however don’t engage in dominance fights and don’t require such protection therefore they only have one set of warts that are substantially smaller.

Looking at the following images you can easily spot which is the male and which is the female.


Female Warthog (Phacochoerus africanus)

Female Warthog (Phacochoerus africanus)

Male Warthog (Phacochoerus africanus)

Male Warthog (Phacochoerus africanus)

Now let’s take a look at our friend Pumbaa..

The Lion King: Pumbaa and Timon The Lion King: Pumbaa and Timon


Only one set of warts close to the eyes are visible and they are in fact quite small. Very similar to the female warthog photo we just saw.
Could it be that Pumbaa is not a male warthog like we thought but a female..?


The Lion King: Pumbaa and Timon

I know what you’re thinking now: “He was just a juvenile warthog and hadn’t developed his protective warts yet“. Well, that would be true if the story in the film had developed in only a few weeks or even months but we know that Timon and Pumbaa meet Simba when he was still a cub and stayed with him until he was a fully grown adult with a beautiful mane. Male lions get their mane completely grown by the time they are 5 years old. Warthogs on the other hand get sexually mature between 18-20 months so we can easily infer that Pumbaa was in fact an adult throughout The Lion King film. An adult female warthog!

So tell me Disney, what else are you keeping from us?
Maybe we should just take Rafiki’s advice..


The Lion King: Rafiki and Simba




If you liked this entry, make sure you check out our Disney category.
Other Disney entries:
Scar: The black maned lion
Mystery of the Elephant Graveyard
Spotted Hyenas: Lions’ friends or foes?

4 responses to “Pumbaa: What Disney didn’t tell you

  1. I enjoyed the essay. Very informative. You “like” button is not working so people may have liked you report but been unable to let you know.

    • Wildlife TV says:

      Thank you for your comment.
      I’ve tried to check what might be happening with the “like” button but everything looks fine from here. I even got a “like” on this entry just an hour ago.
      Not sure what could be causing the problem.

      • Anonymous says:

        OMG I never noticed that before! But u know this is just a cartoon for children and Pumbaa is just a fictional character like Timon. Their for entertainment not judging whos a female and male.

  2. Hello There. I discovered your weblog the use of msn. That is an extremely well written article.
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