As a cub, Kopa often listened to stories about his family and friends. His curiosity once led him into trouble, as he strayed into the desert in search of his "family tree," which he believed to be a physical plant. With the help of three vultures called the Buzzard Boyz, Kopa was found by his parents, who saved him from the vultures' clutches.
Kopa famously befriended a hyena named Asante, which emboldened the hyenas of the Outlands to stray into the Pride Lands. One such hyena named Fisi devised a plot to overthrow Simba by using Kesho the cheetah to force Simba from the throne. The plan worked, and Kopa joined his father in exile to the jungle. However, the two eventually returned to the Pride Lands with the help of an elephant named Kia, and Simba was reinstated as king and Kopa as prince heir.
Kopa was born to Simba and Nala. As their only son, he was the prince heir of Pride Rock and so was expected to inherit his father's throne someday. As a cub, Kopa made many friends, including Afua, Jambo and Kwaheri, and Pimbi.
Simba's broken promise
Kopa was playing with his hyrax friend, Pimbi, who teased him for his poor pounce. Kopa boasted that he would someday be the king of the Pride Lands like his father before him. He then bid the hyrax a hasty goodbye, as he was planning to meet Simba at Pride Rock for a trip to the summit.
Once at Pride Rock, Kopa met his mother, Nala, who greeted her son and asked him about his playdate with Pimbi. No sooner had Kopa talked to his mother when Simba appeared with Rafiki and Zazu, and Nala explained that there had been another crisis at the water hole. Kopa bounded up to his father, proclaiming that he was ready to go, but Simba gently insisted that he must attend to the problem at the water hole. Disappointed, Kopa reminded Simba that he had promised to take him to the top of Pride Rock, but Nala explained that Simba had kingly duties. Unexpectedly, Rafiki took Kopa's side and told the royal family a story about Mufasa and Scar as youths.
After hearing the story, Kopa expressed awe for his ancestors, Ahadi and Mufasa, and distaste for his great-uncle, Scar. Simba proclaimed that he had benefited from the story as well, as he had realized that broken promises tore families apart, such as how Ahadi's broken promise had torn his family apart. Summoning Kopa, he agreed to take the cub and Nala to the summit of Pride Rock, as family was important, and much had gone into the making of the Pride Lands. This decision prompted much joy from Kopa.
Jambo and Kwaheri's dare
Kopa was showing off to his monkey friends, Jambo and Kwaheri, but tripped on a broken tree branch, which made the monkeys laugh at him. Embarrassed, he ordered them to stop, and they honored his request, instead suggesting a game of "I-dare-you."
Kopa agreed to the game and made the first dare, challenging Jambo to swing from a short acacia tree to a tall one. Jambo easily completed the dare, and Kwaheri took his turn, telling Kopa to jump from a high, pointed rock. Puffing himself up for his friends, Kopa leaped from the rock. Just then, he was halted in his game by Zazu, who warned the cub to stay away from the gorge because the waters were unusually high. With his warning given, the hornbill flew away, and the monkeys returned, daring Kopa to catch them.
Accepting the challenge, Kopa gave chase but came to an abrupt halt at the edge of the gorge. The monkeys easily swung across and taunted Kopa from the opposite bank of the river, pressing him to cross the chasm. Overwhelmed, the cub turned tail and fled, hiding himself in a burrow until he heard a strange noise. Mustering his courage, the young lion challenged the strange animal, who turned out to be Rafiki. When the mandrill chided Kopa for being recklessly brave, the cub argued that he wanted to be courageous like his parents. Rafiki then told Kopa that even Simba and Nala felt afraid sometimes and instructed the cub to ask his mother about Ni.
Too curious to turn Rafiki down, Kopa charged back to Pride Rock and begged his mother to tell the story, and Nala complied. After the story, Kopa asked her if she had ever seen Ni again, and she admitted that she had not but that she had never forgotten him. Shortly after the story, Zazu showed up and told Kopa that his monkey friends were looking for him.
Kopa found Jambo and Kwaheri at the terrace, where the monkeys dared him to do fancy tricks in the trees. Instead of caving to their requests, he told them that they knew he could not do what they could do. The monkeys continued to pressure him until he turned away. Confused, they called out after him, and Kopa turned, proclaiming that a lion would never learn to roar if he listened to the chattering of monkeys.
When a crisis came up at the water hole between the gazelles and a hippopotamus named Kiboko, Kopa tried to follow his father to the scene of the fray. As he left, Nala called out after him, trying to convince him to hunt, but Kopa reacted with disgust, calling it "girl stuff." Nala laughingly sent him on his way.
Before reaching the water hole, Kopa stopped to talk to other members of his pride, including Babu, Boga, Leo, Mega, Ngawa, and Sabini. The cub tried to tell his friends about the fight between the gazelles and Kiboko, but Sabini ignored him and instead mentioned Simba's family tree to Leo. Not fully understanding the older lions, Kopa asked about his family tree, and the others laughed at him, amused at his naivety. Kopa's temper flared as the others made fun of him, and he demanded to know where his family tree was. Recognizing the cub's frustration, Mega told Kopa to ask his father about their family tree, and the young cub scurried off to talk with Simba.
Once at the water hole, Kopa attempted to get his father's attention, but Simba was distracted by the pestering remarks of the gazelles. Unable to talk to his son in the middle of the crisis, Simba ordered Kopa to leave. Hurt at his father's rejection, Kopa resolved to find his family tree by himself.
The cub began to search avidly for his family tree, avoiding the perimeters of the Pride Lands, as his father had warned him about straying away from their territory. However, when Kopa spotted a lizard, he chased it hungrily into the desert, where he soon lost his way among the blistering heat and scruffy bushes. Too frightened to go any farther, he settled himself into the sand, where he was soon found by Chewa and Choyo, two conniving vultures. While examining the cub, they realized that he was the prince of the Pride Lands. Seizing the opportunity to weasel something out of Simba, they held him for ransom so that Simba would be forced to send them prey in exchange for his son's life. Back in the Pride Lands, Simba and Nala frantically looked for Kopa, as they were worried about his long absence.
With no option of escape, Kopa was forced into a high nest, where the vultures held him ransom until they could contact his parents. Starved and scared, the cub was surrounded by three friendlier vultures, the Buzzard Boyz, who sang to him as he listened politely from the nest. Though Kopa enjoyed the music, the three vultures admitted that their flock did not appreciate their voices. They then informed Kopa that Chewa planned to hold the cub ransom until Simba sent food their way. Not liking this turn in the conversation, Kopa asked for another song, and the vultures happily complied. He then complained that he could not hear them over the growling of his stomach, and the vultures happily flew off to find him food.
When the vultures returned with food for Kopa, the cub was shocked to hear that the flock wanted to exchange his life for that of animals in the Pride Lands. The Buzzard Boyz assured him that he and his future subjects would be safe, for they had a plan. Without explaining it to Kopa, they flew off to talk to Simba. Once in the Pride Lands, they used riddles and songs to inform the king and queen where their son was.
While waiting for the vultures, Kopa sat in his high nest. Soon enough, he saw a great crowd of animals trooping through the desert, among them Rafiki and Zazu. At first, the vultures were elated, but then Simba and Nala stepped out from among the ranks, demanding the return of their son. The vultures were forced to comply, and Rafiki climbed up Kopa's tree to fetch the cub.
Once reunited with his parents, Simba apologized to Kopa and explained what a family tree really was. He told the cub that their entire history had been recorded for them to see, dating back to their great-great-great-grandparents. As the Buzzard Boyz looked on, the family and their subjects returned home.
Fall-out with Afua
|“||Kopa: No! And I don't feel like talking about it. That's all.
Timon: Boy, oh, boy. Our little buddy is not in a good mood.
Pumbaa: Well, sometimes talking about a problem helps.
Kopa: Just leave me alone!
As Timon and Pumbaa were preparing to take a nap, they were interrupted by Kopa, who accidentally crashed into them, with Nala following close behind. The lioness expressed worry for her son, but Kopa answered angrily, refusing to say why he was so upset. Seeing the cub in a bad mood, Timon suggested that they cheer him up. Catching on, Nala agreed and bid her son goodbye.
With Nala gone, Timon and Pumbaa asked Kopa what was troubling him, and the cub admitted that his best friend, Afua, had been acting hurtful lately. Since befriending Beba, a cheetah cub, Afua had been ignoring Kopa in favor of his new friend and often compared Kopa to the faster and more talented Beba. Kopa's words inspired Timon and Pumbaa, who told Kopa that he may just be mad at Afua because he was jealous of Beba. Angry, Kopa tried to turn away, but the duo admitted that they had once been jealous of one another as well. They then told Kopa the story of Joka, a giant python who had tried to split apart Timon, Pumbaa, and Simba's friendship through lies and deceit.
When the story came to an end, Kopa asked if the three had ever made up, and Timon explained that, though it had taken some convincing on his part, the friends had eventually reconciled. Kopa then admitted that he should go talk to Afua, since his friend may not have meant any harm in comparing him to Beba. Both Timon and Pumbaa encouraged Kopa to do this, and the young prince scampered off to make amends with his friend.
Babysat by Zazu
|“||Kopa: What do you want to play, Zazu?
Zazu: How about dead? We both lie down and don't say a word.
Kopa: I'd rather play good guys and bad guys. I'll be the bad guy, and I'm chasing the good guy.
Kopa: Here I come, good guy. Ready or not.
Zazu: No! No! Oh, I hate babysitting! Help!
While Simba was trying to take a nap, Kopa interrupted him, excitedly inviting him to wrestle. Amused, Simba began to play with the cub, but Rafiki and Zazu interjected, telling Simba that there were less acacia trees than usual around the savanna. Overhearing this, Kopa asked where all the trees had gone, and Rafiki explained that most had been killed by elephants or else disease and neglect. Kopa turned to his father and encouraged him to tell the elephants to stop hurting the trees, and Simba begrudgingly left to fix the situation.
Later that day, Nala was talking to Zazu when Kopa made an unexpected appearance, pouncing on the hornbill. After making her son apologize, Nala asked Zazu to watch Kopa while she went to talk with Simba. Though reluctant, Zazu agreed, and Kopa started up a game of good guys and bad guys. Desperately, Zazu tried to change the cub's mind, but Kopa sneakily stalked Zazu, who began to yell for help.
While Simba was on a journey to save Grass Walls, he saw a young mandrill, Mosi, get taken by a leopard. He automatically thought of his own son and chased after the leopard, fueled by love for Kopa.
Later, when Zazu was once again babysitting Kopa for Simba and Nala, he was constantly pestered by the young cub, who asked all sorts of scientific questions, such as why the sky was blue. Though patient, Zazu was easily tired out by the curious cub. In the middle of the questioning, Kopa asked Zazu why he flew so far across the Pride Lands, and the hornbill explained that he needed to see everything so he could report back to Simba.
Interest piqued, Kopa asked why Zazu needed to report to Simba at all, and Zazu explained that it was important for the king to understand what was going on in the Pride Lands. Kopa again asked why, prompting a patient sigh from Zazu, who decided to end the questions by telling the cub a story. Suddenly eager, Kopa asked if the story had anything to do with a monster, to which Zazu said yes. Kopa used a common phrase of his mother's, "I'm all ears," feeling very grown-up.
Zazu began the story by explaining how news-spreading had been a Pride Lands tradition. He went on to re-tell the story of Mufasa and Simba. Kopa, who had heard the story many times, filled in the end for Zazu, explaining how Scar had been defeated and Simba had become the next Lion King. Zazu proceeded to explain that he had inherited the position of majordomo from his mother, Zuzu, who had taught him "perhaps too well." A confused Kopa asked for clarification, and Zazu explained that he had made the mistake of reporting everything he saw to Mufasa instead of narrowing things down to the important facts. He explained to Kopa that every choice had a consequence, which rendered everything one did or said important in the long run.
Zazu tied this principle back to his story, admitting that he had wanted to prevent bad things from happening, so he had poked his beak into everyone's business, trying to make sure that everyone was safe and sound. He went on to tell stories about his own past mistakes and how his reporting to Mufasa had often led to unnecessary confrontations. Kopa asked how he had prevented this from happening again, and Zazu explained that he had learned to check into situations before reporting them to Mufasa. Since his first summer as Mufasa's steward, he had learned much in the ways of reporting.
After telling Kopa the story of his first summer as a steward, Zazu explained how the animals who had deceived him learned to help out around the Pride Lands, deciphering fact from fiction. Understanding Zazu's principle, Kopa quoted Rafiki, saying, "When the mouth is bigger than the brain, the feet won't stay on the path." Zazu then quoted Rafiki himself, replying, "If the coconut bounces too high when it falls from the tree, don't eat it." This prompted a laugh from Kopa, who interpreted the phrase to mean that if something did not seem right, then it was probably wrong. Zazu agreed and told Kopa to always check his facts.
Friendship with Asante
When a disobedient Kopa wandered into the Elephant Graveyard, he saw Asante, a young hyena cub, struggling to escape a vicious constrictor snake. The front half of Asante's body was stuck under the ground, making it impossible for her to defend herself. As the snake started to strangle her, she cried out for help. Mustering his courage, Kopa jumped into the fray and engaged the snake in a fight. After flipping the snake away, Kopa gave Asante the chance to wriggle out of the hole.
Upon seeing each other face to face, the two recognized each other as life-long enemies. Despite this, Kopa introduced himself to the hyena, and Asante gave him her name as well. She then thanked him for saving her from the snake. Kopa told her that snakes did not scare him, and Asante admitted that poisonous snakes scared her. She explained to Kopa that she had been hunting for snake eggs when the constrictor had caught her in the act. Kopa, impressed with Asante's knowledge, claimed to understand all that she was talking about. Asante asked Kopa if he lived in the Pride Lands, and he confirmed that he did. Asante admitted that her kind was not allowed to go there, since hyenas and lions were enemies. Despite this, she again thanked Kopa for saving her life, then admitted that she must go. Kopa said goodbye, and the two parted ways.
After returning home, Kopa thought much about his new friend. He even admitted his troubles to his mother, who tried to explain to her son that hyenas and lions were enemies, though she also complimented him for putting aside their differences in order to save Asante.
Many days later, Kopa was on a walk across the savanna when he ran into Asante again. The hyena invited him to play, and the lion cub eagerly accepted. Asante suggested they throw bones, but Kopa was disgusted. Seeing her friend cringe, Asante laughed and told him that she had just been joking. She then suggested they hunt crickets. As the two played together, Kopa spotted a line of ants crawling across the ground. He pointed them out to Asante and told her to sit and wait. The hyena was confused but obediently sat down and waited.
Presently, a gecko approached and ate up the line of ants. Kopa explained to his friend that no one could change the course of nature. Snakes and geckos could never be friends, and neither could geckos and ants. At Kopa's words, Asante took the gecko and shoved him aside. She then proclaimed to Kopa that she had just changed the course of nature, for she was now a friend of the ants. Kopa asked if it was possible for hyenas and lions to be friends, and Asante pointed out that they were friends. The two then ran off together, happily playing among the savanna grass.
Kopa and Asante met each other more often after this. They played together and told each other their secrets. Kopa told his friend about a tree that gave shade all day long, and Asante told Kopa about a den with a great echo. Despite their growing friendship, neither dared introduce the other to their family.
One day, Asante tried to convince Kopa to come to the Shadowland with her, but Kopa was hesitant to disobey his parents again. Asante finally convinced him to come by telling him that there was a great river there that they could throw stones into. Upon entering the unknown land, Kopa forgot his fears and trotted happily alongside his hyena friend. No sooner were they in Asante's land when they spotted a dark cloud steadily approaching them. At first, Kopa thought it was a swarm of locusts, but Asante instantly knew the true identity of the cloud.
She exclaimed to Kopa that a storm was coming. The lion cub was confused, but Asante pointed out to him that she could hear thunder. Kopa had never seen a storm before in his life, but Asante knew the dangers of rain and lightning. As the storm began to bear down on the cubs, Asante yelled at Kopa to run. Eventually, the lion gave in and raced after his panicked friend. The weather changed drastically, and the storm moved in overhead. As rain began to pelt the cubs from all directions, the river swelled and started to grow bigger and bigger. Soon, the ground gave way, and Kopa fell into the river. The lion cub yelled to Asante for help, but the young hyena ran off into the rain without him.
Unbeknownst to Kopa, Asante hastened to her friend, an old crocodile named Kroko, and begged him to save Kopa's life. After hearing her story, Kroko agreed to help the young lion cub, whom he safely delivered to shore. Asante rushed to Kopa's side, begging him to wake up. Kopa was relieved to see Asante still with him, and the hyena explained to him that she had merely gone for help. Kopa thanked her, and Asante accepted his gratitude. She then asked him if he could move all right. Kopa admitted that he was exhausted, and Asante resolved to guide him home.
Together, the hyena and the lion journeyed across the savanna until they had nearly reached Pride Rock. It had been a long time since a hyena had been brave enough to go so far, and even Asante felt uncomfortable. Kopa was desperate for her to meet his parents, for he knew that if he did not destroy the old hostilities that day, there would not be another chance. Despite his enthusiasm, Asante stopped before they could reach the pride and told Kopa that they were even, as both had saved the other's life at some point. She then told him that they did not belong together, which was why they must part ways.
Kopa begrudgingly agreed with Asante's words and dejectedly made his way back toward Pride Rock. As he was walking, Asante suddenly caught up to him and told him that she had changed her mind. She then asked him if he still wanted her to meet his parents, and Kopa eagerly agreed. Asante admitted that she was a bit afraid of them and asked Kopa if they really were friends. Kopa assured her that they were, then challenged her to a race. Asante teased him about his slowness, and the two friends took off across the savanna.
Exile and return
Kopa asked his father why the king of Pride Rock must always be a lion. Though at first flustered, Simba eventually reassured his son that the king of Pride Rock must be a lion because it had always been that way, with generations of kings spanning the history of the Pride Lands. Kopa remained unconvinced, but Simba urged him to return to Pride Rock, where Nala was surely awaiting their return.
Unbeknownst to the two, a hyena named Fisi had watched from the shadows and was intrigued by the young cub's questions. He schemed to put Kesho the cheetah on the throne. Through tricking and poisoning Simba while he fought Kesho, the hyena succeeded. Though burdened by his defeat, Simba reacted honorably and exiled himself to the jungle. This time, he was not alone, for Kopa accompanied him.
In the years that followed Simba's exile, Simba and Kopa yearned to return to their home, while Kesho was brutally controlled by the hyenas, who did not let him make any decisions for himself. Under Kesho's rule, the hyenas took over the Pride Lands, leaving carrion strewn about the lands, which infected the few animals left. The Pride Landers became so desperate that Nala journeyed to find her mate in the jungle.
Nala first stumbled upon Kopa, who took her to Simba's den. Once facing Simba, the lioness begged her mate to return to the Pride Lands, but the former king refused to journey home. Unable to keep quiet, Kopa begged his father to return, but Simba remained firm in his decision to stay. When the argument became hopeless, Kopa labored through the jungle to find Kia, an elephant. At first, Kia refused to help, but when Kopa reminded him that his jungle would soon be overrun with Pride Lander refugees, he begrudgingly gave in.
Though the hyenas were outraged at Kia's intrusion, they had no choice but to let the elephant pass. Once he reached Pride Rock, Kia dangled Kesho over the precipice and forced him to admit to his entire congregation of followers that he had cheated Simba. Outraged, the Pride Landers demanded his exile, and Simba returned to the Pride Lands amidst happy cheers of return. Kia went back to the jungle, and the hyenas fled the Pride Lands, leaving Simba and his family to return their home to its former glory.
Kopa is a moderately sized lion cub. He is broad and compact, with broad shoulders and a slim, fairly well-muscled build. Facially, his features are more square, mirroring those of his grandfather, Mufasa. Kopa has a rich golden pelt, which is broken only by patches of lighter fur on his muzzle, paws, and underbelly. He has a bushy, reddish-brown head tuft, dark ear rims, and orange eyes. He has eye rims, the top of which are darker than his main pelt and the bottom of which are lighter. Like most Pride Landers, he has a rounded pink nose and colored paws.
Personality and traits
|“||Rafiki: What makes you think I was looking for you? Why should I bother with a cub who's foolish enough to crawl into a hyena's den?
Kopa: Hyena's den! I'm not afraid of hyenas.
Rafiki: Brave animals know when to be afraid.
Kopa: Well, I don't want to be afraid ever! I want to jump across gorges and take every dare. I want to be brave all the time like my father and mother.
Much like his father, Simba, Kopa is a rambunctious cub with a sense of adventure. His curiosity sometimes leads him into dangerous situations, such as when he wandered into the desert in search of his family tree. Even for a young cub, he is considerably innocent and does not always understand even simple figures of speech. Combined with his curiosity, his limited understanding of the world often prompts him into action, which leads him into trouble more often than not.
Despite his innocence, Kopa thinks much of himself and often boasts about his title as the future king of the Pride Lands. Like his father, he enjoys the prospect of becoming king and is not afraid to show off to his friends. Kopa's pride exposes his insecurity and stubborn attachment to looking strong in front of others. Even when scared, Kopa concerns himself with looking brave and capable, as seen when he was unwilling to turn down a foolish dare. His insecurity was noted by Rafiki, who chided him for letting his sense cave to pride.
Kopa's pride is in part due to his idol, Simba. Kopa frequently makes it clear that he looks up to and adores his father, as he always wants to be around him and boasts that he will one day grow up to be just like him. When Simba broke a promise to Kopa, the cub was deeply hurt, taking the kingly decision as a deep personal blow.
Kopa is playful and open to making friends with other species. When Simba was exiled to the jungle, Kopa accompanied him, showing deep loyalty to and admiration of him. Kopa often displays a strong sense of responsibility, as seen when he pushed his father to return to the Pride Lands against all odds. Even when rejected, Kopa showed determination and persistence, taking matters into his own paws in order to inspire his father to return to the Pride Lands.
- Kopa's name means "heart shape (as in cards)" or "cassava (dried), plantain (dried), sago" or "borrow" or "cheat, swindle, defraud" in Swahili.
- In the official canon, Simba and Nala have two cubs: a son, Kion, and a daughter, Kiara. However, the identity of Simba and Nala's cub in The Lion King has had different unofficial identies dependant on media:
- In the original screenplay for The Lion King, the cub at the end of the film is simply referred to as a "newborn cub." The directors jokingly refer to the cub as "Fluffy" in the audio commentary featured on the Laserdisc and DVD releases of the film.
- At the end of some books based on The Lion King, it is stated that Simba and Nala's cub is male. In the audio books and books re-released after The Lion King II: Simba's Pride, this detail was not changed. The only exceptions to this are some books in which the cub is specifically mentioned as a "daughter" or "princess." The trend of Simba and Nala's cub being male continued in the official novelization for the 2019 film.
- In an interview, Phil Weinstein, the storyboard director of The Lion King II: Simba's Pride, admitted that he had had no knowledge of Kopa during the production of the film.
- In The Lion Guard, Simba and Nala have a son named Kion, who bears a striking resemblance to Kopa. Both cubs are male, have golden pelts and reddish head tufts, and make friends with a spunky female hyena.
- Kopa is listed as an option in an Oh My Disney quiz about The Lion King.