After Scar became the king of Pride Rock, he chose Zira's son, Kovu, to be his heir and protégé. However, when Simba deposed Scar and reclaimed his birthright, he rejected Kovu's status as the next in line to the throne. Enraged, Zira attacked Simba, but he defeated her easily and exiled her, her family, and her followers to the Outlands. There, Zira raised Kovu to be a cold-blooded killer in the hopes that he would someday infiltrate Simba's pride, assassinate Simba, and become the new king of Pride Rock.
At first, Kovu resolved to follow through on his mother's plans, but when he fell in love with Simba's daughter, Kiara, he had a change of heart and rejected the Outsiders. As a result, Zira launched an attack on Simba's pride. However, Kovu and Kiara intervened and convinced the Outsiders to join Simba's pride. Zira made one last attempt on Simba's life, but Kiara intercepted the attack, and Zira fell to her death in a raging river.
|“||Rafiki: After Scar was gone, Simba became king. But Zira told Simba he could not rule the Pride Lands. Because Scar had chosen her son, Kovu, to be king.
Bunga: But Scar was never the real king!
Rafiki: Correct, honey badger! And that is what Simba told Zira. But Zira would not listen to reason. Instead, she attacked Simba! Of course, Simba won quickly. But after that, he had no choice. He had to banish Zira and her family from the Pride Lands...forever.
Zira lived in the Pride Lands. She was a member of Scar's pride. When she was younger, Zira formed a close friendship with Scar, who taught her all about the Roar of the Elders. During this time, Zira came to greatly admire him and believe that he deserved to be the king of Pride Rock.
Seasons later, after Scar murdered Mufasa and became the new king of Pride Rock, Zira was one of the few lionesses in the pride who supported Scar's reign. At some point, she bore three cubs: Kovu, Nuka, and Vitani. Since he lacked a lineal descendant, Scar chose Kovu, Zira's youngest son, to be his heir and protégé.
Eventually, Simba returned to the Pride Lands from his self-imposed exile and reclaimed his birthright. Despite Scar's death and Simba's coronation, Zira refused to acknowledge Simba's title, blamed him for Scar's death, and asserted that Kovu was the rightful king. Simba retorted that Scar had never been the true king, which prompted Zira to attack him. Simba won easily, after which he exiled Zira, her family, and her followers to the Outlands under the penalty of death should they return.
While in exile, Zira raised her cubs to resent the Pride Landers and blame Simba for Scar's deposition and death.
Confrontation with Simba
One day, Kovu met Kiara and followed her into the Pride Lands. As the cubs played, Zira watched disapprovingly from the sidelines. At one point, Kovu growled playfully at Kiara, and Simba emerged, roaring, in the defense of his daughter. In answer, Zira roared and leaped to Kovu's defense. The two parents faced off, and Zira readied to attack Simba, only to pause when she realized that he had brought his pride with him. Grudgingly, Zira greeted Nala, who returned the greeting coldly.
Timon ordered Zira to get out of their Pride Lands, but she merely roared at him and declared that the Pride Lands belonged to Scar. Simba ordered her and Kovu to leave, but Zira ignored him and introduced Kovu as Scar's chosen heir and protégé. She went on that Kovu had been the lastborn cub before the Outsiders' exile and lamented her pride's lack of food and water in the Outlands.
Simba reminded Zira of the penalty for returning to the Pride Lands, and Zira offered Kovu to Simba. Instead of taking the bait, Simba commanded Zira to leave and declared that they were finished. Zira chuckled and said that they had barely begun. She then picked up Kovu in her jaws and carried him back to the termite mounds.
Plot against Simba
Upon returning to the Outlands, Zira scolded Nuka for having let Kovu wander off on his own. To save his brother from their mother's wrath, Kovu confessed that he had wandered off on his own, and Zira demanded to know what he had been doing. She continued to pepper him with questions about whose fault it was that Scar was dead and who had made them Outsiders, and Kovu continually answered that it was Simba's fault. Finally, he admitted that he had not thought that Kiara was so bad, but Zira merely mocked him for wanting to be friends with her.
Zira began to circle Kovu and taunt him for believing that he could win Simba's trust through his relationship with Kiara. Suddenly, she paused and praised Kovu for his "idea," likening him to Scar. Nuka reacted with digust, but Zira growled at him to be silent. She then picked up Kovu and carried him inside the termite mounds.
Once inside the termite mounds, Zira deposited Kovu in a nest and plotted to use him to infiltrate Simba's pride, assassinate Simba, and become the new king of Pride Rock. She passed on the plan to the rest of her pride, who roared their consent and approval.
Conflict with Kion
When the Outsiders drove Jasiri and her clan from their watering hole, Jasiri appealed to her friend, Kion, for help. Together, Kion and Jasiri entered the Outlands, where they got into a confrontation with Kovu and Nuka. During the course of their conversation, Kion learned that Kovu and Nuka's family was not welcome in the Pride Lands. Confused, he asserted that his father would likely welcome them into the kingdom, and Nuka asked who his father was. Jasiri answered that Kion was the son of Simba, and Kovu and Nuka began to wonder excitedly if they really could return to the Pride Lands. Kovu pointed out that Kion must first speak with their mother, Zira, and Kion and Jasiri agreed to visit the watering hole.
Once at the watering hole, Nuka announced Kion as Simba's son, and Zira introduced herself and Vitani. She then questioned Kion on why he was in the Outlands, and Jasiri explained that she had brought Kion to the watering hole to sort out their dispute. Zira wondered how Jasiri could be friends with royalty, and Jasiri pointed out that Kion was more than royalty, for he was also the leader of the Lion Guard.
Kion asked Zira why she and her family lived in the Outlands instead of the Pride Lands, but she deflected the question by asking Kion why he had not used the Roar of the Elders to give his friend water. In the face of Kion's confusion, Zira explained that she knew all about the Roar of the Elders and that all Kion had to do to help Jasiri was to roar at a small cloud. Though confused, Kion did as he had been requested, and the cloud swelled into a brief rainstorm.
Awestruck, Kion asked Zira how she had known what the Roar could do, and she commented that she would rather speak of the Roar without Jasiri listening. As Zira walked off to speak to Kion privately, Jasiri commented that she did not trust Zira. Kion agreed with her but pointed out that Zira knew more about the Roar than he did and that there was still a possibility that he could convince her to share the watering hole.
Once in private, Zira assured Kion that she was pleased to meet him, for it did not matter where they lived, only that they were both lions. This sparked an argument between Zira and Kion over whether lions should rule the other animals or be benevolent to them. After the fight, Kion told Zira that they had very different ideas about how lions should act.
Meanwhile, Rafiki learned from Bunga that Kion was going to meet the Outsiders. He took the Lion Guard to a wall of paintings and explained that Simba had banished the Outsiders to the Outlands after they had retained loyalties to Scar. Rafiki then warned the Lion Guard that there would be trouble if Zira found out that Kion was Simba's son, and the team took off to save their friend.
Back in the Outlands, Kion insisted that Zira tell him more about the Roar, but she deflected the question by asking whether he would side with hyenas or lions. Kion argued that he was on the side of the Circle of Life, which prompted Zira to note the similarities between Kion and his father, Simba. She led Kion into a large pit and lamented his decision to not side with lions.
Suddenly, Kion realized that he was surrounded by Zira's lionesses, and Zira explained that if he did not side with their pride, then he would never leave the Outlands. Kion challenged Zira to call off her lionesses or else he would use the Roar of the Elders, but Zira pointed out that when Scar had used the Roar against his fellow lions, he had lost it forever. She then blamed Simba for Scar's fall from the throne, and Kion yelled that Scar had never been the true king. Furious, Zira ordered her lionesses to attack. However, just before the Outsiders could harm Kion, Zira offered to forgive him if he joined her. She then left him with her lionesses while she went to fetch her cubs.
Meanwhile, Nuka lost his patience waiting for Zira and tried to attack Jasiri, only for Zira to call him off. She explained to Jasiri that she and Kion had come to an agreement that the watering hole belonged to lions only. Jasiri retorted that Kion would never agree to such a thing, but Zira pointed out that lions must stick together and intimidated Jasiri into leaving the watering hole.
As Kion continued to fend off the Outsiders, Zira arrived and mocked him for being unable to use his Roar. A befuddled Kovu questioned his mother on what was going on and wondered why they could not be friends with Kion. Zira countered that Kion had left her no choice, for he had sided with Jasiri and her clan over the Outsiders. Nuka asked whether they should be afraid of Kion's Roar, but Zira explained that Kion could not use his powers without losing them forever.
Zira warned Kion that this was his last chance to join her. Just then, Kion caught sight of Ono overhead and, filled with renewed confidence, yelled out the start of the Lion Guard's catchphrase. His team finished the call as they and Jasiri rushed into the pit to confront the Outsiders. Together, the Lion Guard and Jasiri fended off the Outsiders and cornered them against a wall of the pit.
Realizing that this was Kion's Lion Guard, Zira mocked the team for only having one lion and asserted that her pride outnumbered them. Bunga urged Kion to use his Roar, but Kion worried that he would lose the Roar as Scar had for using it against other lions. Despite Kion's fears, Bunga insisted that Scar had not lost his Roar because he had used it against other lions, but because he had used it for evil.
Sensing Kion's change of heart, Zira claimed that she knew the Roar's powers better and that Kion must listen to her. Kion, however, was not swayed and told her that she was not welcome in the Pride Lands so long as he was around. He then used the Roar of the Elders to blow the Outsiders into the termite mounds. Once they landed, Nuka asked where they were, and Zira replied, "Our new home."
Kiara's first hunt
Seasons passed, and Kovu trained under Zira to become a powerful and cold-blooded killer. One day, when Kovu was a young adult, Zira circled him approvingly and questioned him on his destiny. Kovu replied that he would avenge Scar and take his place as the king of Pride Rock by killing Simba. This made the Outsiders roar in approval.
On the day of Kiara's first hunt, Zira tasked Nuka and Vitani with setting fire to Kiara's hunting grounds. They did so, and Kiara got trapped amidst the flames. Zira ordered Kovu to enact her plan, and he obediently charged into the flames, located Kiara, and bore her to safety. Afterward, Simba reluctantly accepted Kovu into his pride and reserved judgment on the rogue's character.
That night, Zira and Nuka watched as Kovu and Kiara talked on Pride Rock. Nuka fretted that Kovu had let Kiara go and insisted that he would have done differently, but Zira pointed out that Kovu had tricked Simba. She added that as he got closer to Kiara, he would get closer to Simba and that he could attack once he got Simba alone.
Ambush on Simba
One night, Vitani spied on Kovu, only to witness him let Simba go. She reported this to Zira, who roared angrily and demanded to know if Vitani was sure of what she had seen. Upon hearing Vitani's affirmation, Zira lamented that Kovu could not betray them.
The next day, while Simba and Kovu were walking alone on the edge of the Pride Lands, the Outsiders surrounded them. Zira congratulated Kovu for doing as they had always planned, and Simba turned on Kovu, furious, despite Kovu's protests that he had not been involved in the ambush. Zira promptly ordered an attack on Simba, and the Outsiders lunged forward to fight. Though Kovu attempted to protect Simba, Vitani kicked him into a rock, rendering him unconscious.
After a brief fight, Simba fell into a gorge and began running away, with the Outsiders at his heels. Eventually, he found and began to scale a pile of logs. As he did so, Kovu appeared on a ridge above the logs and ignored his mother's orders to finish off Simba himself. In Kovu's stead, Nuka climbed up the log pile to attack Simba but lost his footing and got crushed by falling logs. Zira rushed to Nuka's aid and frantically pulled several logs off him, only to find him buried deep within the pile. Weak and near death, Nuka apologized for his failure to kill Simba and said that he had tried, but Zira shushed him and cradled his head in her paw as he took his final breath.
After Nuka's death, Zira prayed to Scar's spirit, begging him to watch over her "poor Nuka." She then turned on Kovu and slashed him across the eye, giving him a scar identical to Scar's. She demanded to know what he had done, and Kovu replied that he had done nothing. Zira agreed and elaborated that, in doing so, Kovu had betrayed the Outsiders and the legacy of Scar. Kovu insisted that he wanted nothing more to do with Scar, to which Zira pointed out that he was just like Scar, for he had killed his own brother. This made Kovu flee the gorge in horror.
Though the Outsiders were anxious to chase after Kovu, Zira told them to let him go. She then hopped onto a tall rock and reminded her pride that, since Simba was injured and weak, it was the perfect time for them to attack. She continued that they would take his entire kingdom by force, which caused the Outsiders to rear onto their hind legs and roar in approval.
Pride Lander-Outsider battle and death
|“||Zira: It's over, Simba! I have dreamed of nothing else for years!
Simba: Last chance, Zira: go home.
Zira: I am home. Attack!
The Outsiders invaded the Pride Lands, only to be intercepted by Simba's pride near the gorge. Zira told Simba that it was over and that she had dreamed of nothing else for years. Simba gave Zira one last chance to go home, but she declared that she was already home, then ordered her lionesses to attack. The two prides surged toward one another and launched into battle.
In the midst of the fight, the Outsiders swarmed Simba, and Zira took advantage of his distraction to knock him to the ground. The two began to circle one another and were about to fight when Kovu and Kiara jumped in-between them and called for peace. Zira accused Kovu of being weak and ordered him to step aside, but he declared that he would not let her hurt Kiara or Simba. Meanwhile, Kiara convinced Simba to stand down and accept the Outsiders as part of their pride.
Despite Simba's agreement to stop the battle, Zira ordered Vitani to attack. Vitani, however, refused and marched over to stand beside Kovu. Unaffected by her daughter's plea for peace, Zira asserted that if Vitani would not fight, then she would die as well. This digusted the Outsiders and motivated them to join Vitani on Simba's side of the divide. Simba appealed to Zira to put the past behind her, but she refused and launched herself at Simba. At the last second, Kiara knocked Zira aside and sent them both tumbling into the gorge.
While Kiara managed to catch hold of the side of the gorge, Zira hung precariously over the raging river below. As Zira attempted to climb to safety, Kiara reached down and offered a paw to her. Zira swiped furiously at Kiara's paw and continually rejected her help until she fell into the river and drowned.
While the Pride Lander-Outsider battle raged, Jasiri traveled to the Tree of Life and informed Kion that the Outsiders were invading the Pride Lands. Intent on protecting the Pride Lands, the Lion Guard agreed to return home and fight on Simba's side. Upon arriving in the Pride Lands, Kion learned from Kovu and Vitani that Zira had died. At Pride Rock, Kovu and Rafiki explained everything that had transpired between the Pride Landers and the Outsiders, including Zira's demise.
Zira was a lean, lanky, and powerfully built lioness. Her main pelt was brown tinged with tan, while her underbelly, paws, and muzzle were a paler shade of tan. She had black upper ear rims, brown inner ears, and a dark stripe that ran from her mid-back to her forehead. Her eye rims were bi-colored; while the upper shades were dark brown, the lower shades were cream. Her eyes were red.
Like most Outsiders, Zira had sharp features and a curved black nose. She kept her claws unsheathed at all times.
Personality and traits
Zira was bloodthirsty, hostile, and vengeful. Fanatically loyal, she dedicated her life to avenging Scar's death and putting his chosen heir and protégé, Kovu, on the throne. So dedicated was she to enacting her revenge plot against Simba that she was even willing to kill her own children for standing in her way. It was ultimately her obsessive and neurotic personality that alienated her from the rest of her family and the Outsiders, who saw her as much too extreme.
A natural leader, Zira was able to command the Outsiders with efficiency and ease. She had a good eye for battle tactics and often advised her pride on how to fight, to good effect. She enjoyed the thrill of battle and frequently used her anger to fuel her attacks. Even in the face of an enemy's compassion, Zira never wavered in her convictions but rather clung to her hatred and rage.
As a mother, Zira was emotionally and verbally abusive. She raised her cubs to be hateful and vicious, and reprimanded them harshly whenever they failed her. She was especially neglectful of Nuka, who constantly vied for her affections but got continually ignored and mistreated. Though Zira initially showed favoritism toward Kovu for being the Chosen One, she came to resent him for betraying Scar and getting Nuka killed. Despite her overall disregard for her cubs, she did show uncharacteristic affection and care for Nuka upon his death and even prayed to Scar's spirit to watch over him.
- Zira was voiced by the following:
- Zira was animated by Kevin Peaty in The Lion King II: Simba's Pride.
- Zira's name means "hate, detest, despise, loathe" or "abstain, stop, give up, cease to" in Swahili.
- Zira's ear notch switches sides periodically.
- In "Lions of the Outlands", Zira lacks her dorsal stripe. However, in "Cave of Secrets", she appears with her dorsal stripe in a cave painting.
- In The Lion King II: Simba's Pride, the Outsiders already live in the termite mounds by the time Kovu meets Kiara. However, in the "Lions of the Outlands" episode of The Lion Guard, the Outsiders move into the termite mounds for the first time, despite Kovu mentioning that his encounter with Kiara has already taken place.
- Zira and Kovu's relationship was inspired by the 1962 film The Manchurian Candidate, in which a mother brainwashes her son into becoming an assassin.
- Zira's line, "If you need your pound of flesh..." is a reference to the Shakespearean play The Merchant of Venice.
- Zira bears a striking resemblance to the strange lion; both are lions with tan fur, cream markings, red eyes with yellow sclerae, dark ear rims, a dorsal stripe, and a notch in their right ear.
- Director Darrell Rooney stated that Zira was originally conceived as Scar's mate and queen. However, their relationship was purposely obscured in the middle of production to make her "just a follower" due to the incestuous undertones Kovu's romance with Kiara would have had.
- In a deleted scene, Nuka and Vitani bring news to Zira that Simba's cub is a girl. Zira gloats over the news and speaks to Scar's spirit, calling herself his "loving, devoted queen." This implies that Scar was originally going to be Kovu, Nuka, and Vitani's father.
- In a deleted scene, Kiara offers to help Zira climb up the side of the gorge, but Zira, with a twisted grin, replies, "No. Never," then lets go of the cliff and falls to her death in the river below. A vestige of this scene remains in the final version of the film, as Zira can still be seen smiling as she falls to her death.