A dark headstripe
|Also known as||
Mother (by her cubs)
Zira is first seen trespassing into the Pride Lands and closely examining Kovu's interactions with Kiara, the daughter of Simba. When the king himself appears, ready to defend his cub, Zira quickly intervenes, roaring at Simba in the defense of her own son. The two lions make bitter conversation, Simba reminding her that she has broken the law of the land and thus must pay the penalty. She offers up Kovu to Simba, who hesitates to kill the cub, something Zira had predicted from the start.
Simba orders the Outsiders to get out, ending their business, but Zira corrects him and smirks dangerously and knowingly at Kiara. She then grabs Kovu, more forcefully than Simba picked up Kiara, and leaves, returning to her home in the Outlands.
Once home, Zira strides by Nuka, ignoring him with a less-than-pleased expression on her face and a helpless Kovu in her mouth. She then drops the cub none-too-gently in the sand and turns her fury about the cub's disobedience on Nuka, screaming that he was supposed to be overseeing his actions. Kovu steps in on his brother's behalf, and Zira redirects her wrath. Zira then questions Kovu into oblivion about acting friendly toward a Pride Lander rather than repelling them like he should have done.
Through her scolding, she suddenly gets an idea: Kovu can be used to get to Kiara so he can kill Simba. Zira turns gentle, praising her son for possessing a mind of ill will (situational irony, considering how Kovu had no evil in his innocent mind). Nuka expresses disgust at his mother's praise, but she turns and snarls at him dangerously.
Her anger makes Nuka back down in fear, and Zira grabs Kovu, leading him into the termite mound where his bed is set. Zira softly coos a lullaby to her son, stating that he will be a king someday. Before Kovu falls asleep, she informs him that his training is going to intensify. In a heavy song, Zira outlines her dreams about the blood-soaked payback that she will levy on Simba.
When Kovu is a young adult and has completed his training, Zira circles her son, very much approving of the manipulated monster which she has created in Scar's image. She comments that he has the same darkness in his soul that Scar had and reaffirms her teachings by questioning Kovu himself about his destiny. After stating he is ready, she prepares a plan that will involve Kovu infiltrating the Pride Lands by rescuing Kiara, integrating himself into the pride, and then killing Simba once he has gained the king's trust.
Meanwhile, Nuka and Vitani ignite the Pride Lands during Kiara's first solo hunt, and Zira watches the flare with Kovu by her side. She commands him into action and then leaves herself.
After the fire rescue, Zira and Nuka sit a little ways from Pride Rock and observe Kovu's actions. Nuka is disapproving of his brother for not harming Kiara, but Zira rebukes him, stating that Kovu is following the plan as he was supposed to and that the fire rescue worked perfectly. She expresses her approval and anticipation by snapping a branch in half.
Vitani later reports to Zira that Kovu is no longer on board with the plan because of a love affair between him and Kiara. Zira is angered by this apparent betrayal and quickly devises a plan to get Kovu back on their side. The next morning, Simba takes Kovu out on a walk, and while he is making his speech, Zira cackles evilly and emerges from the dust with Nuka, Vitani and the rest of her pride, preparing an ambush.
She subtly taunts Simba and then credits Kovu for leading him into the ambush (again, ironic, considering Simba chose the spot to visit). As Simba loses his trust in Kovu, Zira and her pride attack. They pursue him through the clogged gorge and eventually trap him at a dam.
Simba climbs up the wall of logs and upon seeing Kovu at the top, Zira commands him to kill Simba. Kovu instead does nothing, so Nuka climbs up the dam, seeing his chance to prove to everyone that he is the lion Kovu cannot be. However, he is pinned under the logs and dies in the process. When Kovu tries to dig up Nuka, Zira frantically pushes him out of the way and clears the logs herself. Near tears, she comforts her son until he dies.
Zira mourns her son's death and sends a desperate prayer to Scar to watch over Nuka. Her sorrowful mood quickly turns angry as she blames Kovu for Nuka's death and then proceeds to hit him, scratching at his face and making a scar identical to Scar's. Zira then blames Kovu for Nuka's death, coughing out angry invective at her remaining son about how he has betrayed his pride, his mother, and even Scar, making Kovu run away in outrage.
With her son dead and the chosen one "corrupted," Zira has had enough and announces to her pride that Simba has taken away her children in one way or another. She decides to take advantage of Simba's injury and prepares a full-scale war on the Pride Lands to the unanimous acceptance of her whole pride.
The Pride Landers meet the Outsiders head-on as Zira triumphantly mocks Simba, saying this battle is the moment that she has dreamed of for years. After Simba commands her to return home, Zira says that she is home and orders her troops to attack. Zira stays on an elevated knoll for the beginning of the fight, commanding her lionesses, but upon seeing Simba swarmed by Outsiders, she attacks.
The two are dangerously close to having a blood-soaked battle, but Kiara and Kovu intervene, much to Zira's annoyance. Kiara tells Simba that they are all one and that the fighting is pointless. Taking advantage of a tender moment between Simba and Kiara, Zira orders Vitani to attack, but the younger lioness is moved by Kiara's words and disobeys her mother.
Blinded by fury and sadness, Zira threatens her own daughter impulsively. Disgusted by their leader, the Outsiders cross over to the Pride Landers' side and stand against a shocked but unrelenting Zira, leaving the lioness unwilling to let go of the past.
On Scar's behalf, Zira leaps out to kill Simba, but Kiara intercepts, and the two roll over the side of a cliff. During this time, logs off to the side of the gorge burst, opening a massive river underneath the two struggling lionesses. Zira hits multiple rocks and is left dangling off a ledge while an addled Kiara offers to help Zira, who is seen torn between choosing life or death. However, unable to let go of her hate and seeing that her dreams are lost, Zira refuses Kiara's help and proceeds to fall to her death into the river. She is presumed to be swept away by the tide.
During the conversation, Kion learns that Kovu and Nuka's family is not welcome in the Pride Lands. Confused, he asserts that his father would likely welcome them into the kingdom, and Nuka asks who his father is. Jasiri answers that Kion is the son of Simba and a shocked Kovu and Nuka wonder if they really can return to the Pride Lands. Kovu points out that Kion must first speak with their mother Zira and Kion and Jasiri agree to visit the watering hole.
Once there, Nuka announces Kion as Simba's son and Zira introduces herself and her daughter Vitani. She questions Kion as to why he is in the Outlands and Jasiri explains that she has brought Kion here to sort out the water dispute. When Zira wonders how Jasiri could be friends with royalty, Jasiri points out that Kion is more than royalty, for he is also the leader of the Lion Guard.
Kion asks Zira why she and her family live in the Outlands instead of the Pride Lands, but she deflects the question by asking Kion why he has not used the Roar of the Elders to give his friend the water she needs. When Kion reacts with confusion, Zira explains that she knows all about the Roar of the Elders and that all Kion has to do to help Jasiri is roar at a small cloud. Though confused, Kion does as he is requested and the cloud swells into a brief rainstorm.
An awestruck Kion asks Zira how she had known what his roar could do, but she comments that she would rather speak of the roar without Jasiri listening. As Zira walks off to speak to Kion privately, Jasiri comments that she does not trust Zira. Kion agrees with her, but points out that Zira knows more about the roar than he does and that there is still a possibility that he can convince her to share the watering hole.
Once in private, Zira assures Kion that she is pleased to meet him, for it does not matter where they live, only that they are both lions. She and Kion then sing "Lions Over All", in which they argue over whether lions should rule the other animals or be benevolent to other creatures. After the song, Kion tells Zira that they have very different ideas about how lions should act.
Meanwhile, Rafiki learns from Bunga that Kion is going to meet the Outsiders. He takes them to a wall of paintings and explains that Simba had banished the Outsiders to the Outlands after they had retained loyalties to Scar, Simba's evil uncle. Zira had insisted that her son, Kovu, be king since he was Scar's chosen heir, but Simba had asserted that Scar was not the true king. The two had engaged in a battle, and Simba had banished Zira and her followers to the Outlands after a crushing defeat. Rafiki warns the Lion Guard that there will be trouble if Zira finds out that Kion is Simba's son, and the team takes off to save their friend.
Back in the Outlands, Kion insists that Zira tell him more about the Roar, but she deflects the question by asking whether he will side with hyenas or lions. Kion argues that he is on the side of the Circle of Life, which prompts Zira to note the similarities between Kion and his father, Simba. She leads Kion into a large pit and laments his decision to not side with lions.
Suddenly, Kion realizes that he is surrounded by Zira's lionesses, and Zira explains that if he does not side with their pride, then he will never leave the Outlands. Bravely, Kion challenges Zira to call off her lionesses or else he will use the Roar of the Elders, but Zira points out that when Scar had used the Roar against his fellow lions, he had lost it. She then blames Simba for Scar's fall from the throne of the Pride Lands and Kion yells that Scar had never been the true king. Furious and offended, Zira orders an attack on Kion. However, just before the Outsiders can hurt him, Zira offers to forgive him if he will join her and leaves him in the care of her pride while she goes to fetch her cubs.
Meanwhile, Nuka loses patience waiting for Zira and tries to attack Jasiri. When Kovu steps in the way to mediate, Jasiri comments that whatever game Nuka wants to play, she can play better. Antagonized, Nuka moves forward to attack, but is called off by Zira. She explains to Jasiri that she and Kion have come to an agreement that the watering hole belongs to lions only, which prompts Jasiri to retort that Kion would never agree to such a thing. Zira simply says that lions must stick together and intimidates Jasiri into leaving the watering hole. As Kion continues to fend off the Outsiders, Zira arrives and mocks him for being unable to use his Roar. A befuddled Kovu questions his mother as to what is going on and wonders why they cannot be friends with Kion. Zira counters that Kion has left her no choice, for he has sided with Jasiri and her clan over the Outsiders. Nuka asks whether they should be afraid of Kion's Roar, but Zira explains that he cannot use his powers without losing them forever.
Zira warns Kion that this is his last chance to join her, but just then, Kion catches sight of Ono hovering over the pit. Filled with renewed confidence, he yells out the start of the Lion Guard's catchphrase, which is completed by his team as they and Jasiri rush into the pit. Together, the Lion Guard and Jasiri fend off the Outsiders and corner them against a wall of the pit. Realizing that this is Kion's team, Zira mocks the Lion Guard for only having one lion and rallies her lionesses with a cry that they outnumber their enemies. Bunga urges Kion to use his Roar, but Kion worries that he will lose the Roar as Scar did for using it against other lions. Despite Kion's fears, Bunga insists that Scar did not lose his Roar because he used it against other lions, but because he used it for evil.
Sensing Kion's change of heart, Zira claims that she knows the Roar's powers better and that Kion must listen to her. Kion, however, is not swayed and tells her that she is not welcome in the Pride Lands so long as he is around. As Kion steps forward menacingly, Kovu begins to back away slowly and ducks down just in time to avoid the Roar. The force of the Roar blasts Zira and the other Outsiders out of the pit, and Kovu scrambles to catch up with them. Zira and the Outsiders land near a large termite mound, and Nuka asks where they are. Zira replies, "our new home."
Zira is seen in a painting during the musical sequence, "Wisdom on the Walls".
Of all the lions who were conceptualized, Zira doesn't seem to change in the slightest. The only thing she seems to be missing on her ref sheets and concept art are her ear stripes. In the videos, Proud of Simba's Pride (part 1) and Proud of Simba's Pride (part 2), a lioness in a rough storyboard appears. It is unknown if this is Zira, but it seems to be taking place around or during "My Lullaby," so it is heavily speculated to be her. This suspected Zira concept is more heavily built than the finalized Zira and has no visible Outsider traits except her nose and lean build.
Personality and traits
Her many years in the Outlands have made her sensitive to Simba's mention and considerably short-tempered. Even when dealing with her young children, barely more than cubs, she is prone to bouts of furious anger and raving, which reveals that even years of separation from Simba can do nothing to soften her grudges. If wrong is done to Zira, she will not rest until it is made right, making a lifelong enemy of Simba and an enemy of her own son when he accidentally lets Nuka die. With a grudge in mind, Zira can become obsessed, refusing to rest until justice is served, even if the time to strike takes many years of long waiting.
As a leader, Zira is charismatic and manipulative, able to rally an entire pride to her side. She is also able to raise three brainwashed children who see no wrong in the constant death that surrounds them. Even when around her children, Zira does nothing to show them love, only softening once, when her son Nuka lies dying in her paw. As for Kovu and Vitani, her other children, Zira seems to care nothing for them, driving Kovu out of the pride and threatening to kill Vitani herself.
Zira also holds a superiority complex, as she believes that her species dominates all others, especially hyenas.
- Simba's Mighty Adventure - (2000) - (game) - Suzanne Pleshette
- The Lion Guard - (2016) - (TV series) - Nika Futterman
Zira's inspirations are most likely Lady Montague from Shakespeare's "Romeo & Juliet" (as she is the mother of Romeo, who is presented in the film as Kovu) and Eleanor Iselin in "The Manchurian Candidate." Lady Montague and Zira are similar in their role in the story, as they are both mothers of one of the protagonists, but in very bad relationship with the family of the another protagonist. The deleted scene in which Zira commits suicide has its roots in "Romeo & Juliet" as well, as the main protagonists of the play take their own lives away at the end of the story, too.
In the "Proud of Simba's Pride" documentary, Darrell Rooney mentions "Simba's Pride" taking inspiration from Manchrian Candidate. In relation to Zira, Mrs. Iselin is a ruthless power-hungry mother of a brainwashed son sent to kill a presidential candidate.
- Director Darrell Rooney confirmed in a statement on Facebook that Zira's relationship with Scar 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. Rooney later made another statement on Facebook about Kovu, describing him as an orphan, in which case, Zira would only be his adopted mother.
- Zira's line "If you need your pound of flesh..." is a reference to the Shakespearean play "The Merchant of Venice," even though Simba's Pride is based on "Romeo and Juliet."
- In "Lions of the Outlands", Zira is drawn without her dorsal stripe.
- According to her concepts, Zira's eyes were once to be green like her son Kovu's.
- In an alternate scene that survived to the rough animation stage, Kiara offers Zira help, but Zira, with a twisted grin, replies, "No... never." and releases her claws from the cliff, falling into the swollen river below, thus committing suicide. This was considered too dark and morbid for a Disney film, so it was cut. A vestige of the scene does remain, however, as Zira can still be seen grinning as she falls in the final cut.
- Originally, Zira was going to be accompanied by the hyenas, who served as her henchmen.
- Bette Midler and Helen Mirren were considered for the role.
|“||Zira: It's over, Simba! I have dreamed of nothing else for years!|
Timon: Boy, does she need a hobby.
Simba: Last chance, Zira. Go home.
Zira: I am home!
|Season 1 of The Lion Guard|
|Previous Season||"Never Judge a Hyena by its Spots":||"The Rise of Makuu":||"Bunga the Wise":||"Can't Wait to be Queen":||"Eye of the Beholder":||"The Kupatana Celebration":|
|"Fuli's New Family":||"The Search for Utamu":||"Follow that Hippo!":||"The Call of the Drongo":||"Paintings and Predictions":||"The Mbali Fields Migration":||"Bunga and the King":|
|"The Imaginary Okapi":||"Too Many Termites":||"The Trouble with Galagos":||"Janja's New Crew":||"Baboons!":||"Beware the Zimwi":||"Lions of the Outlands":|
|"Never Roar Again":||"The Lost Gorillas":||"The Trail to Udugu":||"Ono's Idol":||"Beshte and the Hippo Lanes":||"Ono the Tickbird":||Next Season|
|Characters from The Lion King II: Simba's Pride|