Hyena Biologist Sues Disney Over Lion King Animal Portrayal

Hyena Biologist Sues Disney Over Lion King Animal Portrayal

“The Lion King” is one of the most classic Disney movies of the ’90s, and is just as popular today as it was upon its initial release. The story of Simba and his friends (and foes) is legendary, but not everyone was a fan of how certain animals were portrayed. In fact, Disney faced a lawsuit related to “The Lion King” from a biologist for that very reason.

  1. Disney animators got to experience real hyenas when making the movie. Per Screenrant, the animators visited the University of California’s Field Station for Behavioral Research to get up close and personal with hyenas. By observing them, they would be better equipped to draw them and put them into action. While the animators promised to not turn the hyenas into complete villains, that’s not what happened.
  2. A lot of people boycotted “The Lion King” over the negative portrayal of hyenas. They believed the animals getting a bad rap in such a popular movie would endanger conservation attempts in the wild. However, one biologist was so angry, they sued.
  3. The unnamed biologist filed a lawsuit against Disney. The scientist claimed defamation of character on behalf of the hyenas. Unfortunately, that suit never went anywhere since it’s pretty impossible to defame an animal. The suit was dismissed before it ever made it into court. However, it lives on in the annals of bizarre Disney history.
  4. That wasn’t the only lawsuit Disney has ever faced. A separate lawsuit claimed that “The Lion King” was an idea stolen from a Japanese cartoon called “Kimba the White Lion” that was created in 1950. Both movies have animal heroes, a memorable theme song, and feature lion cubs fighting to take back the throne after their fathers die, according to Bored Panda. Disney denied the allegations that their movie copied off of any element of the Japanese cartoon.
Jennifer Still is a writer and editor with more than 10 years of experience. The managing editor of Bolde, she has bylines in Vanity Fair, Business Insider, The New York Times, Glamour, Bon Appetit, and many more.