The star of Broadway’s The Lion King recently came face-to-face with actual lions, just in time for World Lion Day.
Jelani Remy, who plays Simba in the musical remake of the classic Disney movie, followed the real-life kings of the jungle at the Bronx Zoo to learn more about his role.
“After seeing these guys, my roar is going to be just as ferocious, if not more,” Remy said in an interview with Disney on Broadway.
Following curator Pat Thomas, Remy was introduced to the zoo’s African lion brothers, Bahati and Ime.
“When fully mature, they can well top 400 pounds,” Thomas explained.
Remy brought up the production’s opening scene, where a melody of animals rush on stage, and asked Thomas whether the scene is realistic in the animal kingdom.
“Within reason,” said Thomas, nodding. “If prey animals could actually see lions, they’ll get pretty close to them because they know they can outrun lions.”
The Bronx Zoo’s African Plains exhibit opened in 1941 and was built to demonstrate the predator-prey relationship, Thomas said.
“The true meaning of the circle of life,” Remy said.