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Scar: The black maned lion

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

Pumbaa: What Disney didn’t tell you

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?