Wildlife TV

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Scar: The black maned lion

on June 3, 2013

A month ago I wrote an entry about Pumbaa the warthog, from Timon and Pumbaa, Simba’s adventure buddies in the Disney film, “The Lion King”.

Today I would like to focus on another character from the film: Scar, the black maned lion.

The Lion King: Scar

Scar was Simba’s uncle who plotted his brother’s (Mufasa) death in order to become king, which he eventually achieves with the help of the hyenas. Physically he’s quite different from his brother, he has a scar across his face and he has a black mane which is not common in lions. So one might wonder why Mufasa has a beautiful golden mane and Scar has a shabby black mane. Of course, knowing how Disney works, one can simply infer that it is because he’s the bad guy and the bad guys are always dark and ugly.

But the interesting thought is that there are in fact dark maned lions in the wild, not many unfortunately but they are still some out there.

So now you might wonder if black maned lions in the wild are also despised by other lions while the golden maned ones are the preferred males.

In fact, some researchers a while ago figured this was interesting enough to test with lions in the wild. They got two real size toy lions, one with a dark mane and one with a blond mane and placed them side by side in the wild and waited for lions and lionesses’ reactions.

Males results showed that they would approach the blond maned lion toy more than they would approach the dark maned one as they would see it as less threatening.

Females on the other hand, showed preference to the dark maned lion toy by approaching it with signs of sexual interest a lot more than they would approach the blond one. In the wild, male lions with darker manes often have higher testosterone levels thus making them bigger, more aggressive and more prone to win fights and keep a pride for longer. All of these characteristics are sure to attract females looking for a top notch male to mate.

So how come Mufasa is the one with the big pride, loved by all the females and king of his territory while Scar, the black maned lion is despised by all and exiled to the shadow land?


The Lion King: Scar and Mufasa


Now we are entering the psychology area so bear with me.

When we are young our view of the world is very limited. We categorise things in good or bad, right or wrong, pretty or ugly. As we grow up we realise that the world is not that simple; some people can be good and bad at the same time, some might look good but be bad or look bad and be good. We learn that because someone is pretty on the outside doesn’t necessarily mean they are pretty on the inside as well.
At first this concept can get a bit confusing and overwhelming so in children’s stories we are presented with a beautiful protagonist that is good and pure and an ugly and evil bad guy/girl.
In fact, children are so incapable of comprehending this concept of a person being perceived good and bad at the same time that there are no bad mothers in kid’s films. Evil motherly figures are never really the mothers, they are the step mothers because kids would have trouble understanding that a mother (a good character that takes care of them) could also be bad.

To aid children’s understanding of who’s good and who’s bad in a film, animators and designers often chose to portray evil characters with dark colours, ugly features and mean voices. This is exactly what happened to Scar. Despite the fact that Scar would be a major hit with females all over the savannah if he was a real lion, as a Disney character he’s condemned to be the evil guy that gets defeated at the end by the handsome young prince..


The Lion King: Scar. Life's not fair is it?


And with this I say goodbye and até à próxima!



If you liked this entry, make sure you check out our Disney category.
Other Disney entries:
Spotted Hyenas: Lions’ friends or foes?
Mystery of the Elephant Graveyard
Pumbaa: What Disney didn’t tell you

3 responses to “Scar: The black maned lion

  1. Great post!!!! I love it when people use Disney to educate 😀 Lion king is one of my favourites as well!!! Can’t wait for the next lesson, keep them coming 😀

    • Wildlife TV says:

      Aww thank you!
      I like to teach about science and research using easy to relate topics and examples and using the Lion King is perfect because everyone on this planet has seen it and knows what’s I’m talking about! 😀

  2. misanthropy101 says:

    This comment would probably more at home elsewhere but I’ll leave it anyway.
    Perhaps Mufasa felt this at an early age, was threatened and used his age difference early on to overpower Scar and keep him under foot, ensuring he would end up stronger. Hence the comparably emaciated look of Scar (especially considering Black lions are supposed to be physically stronger). It would also go a way to explain Scar’s disposition towards Mufasa and what he has built because let’s face it, if Mufasa was always the kind and caring lion we all know, Scar would surely have been Mufasa’s number 2 and close friend, well cared for and probably a lot more mentally stable.

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