Animal Kingdom Unveils Adorable New Version of ‘Lion King’ Character

disney animal kingdom monkeys

According to the Disney Parks Blog, Rafiki the mandrill has a tiny new relative! A new mandrill — which is the species of monkey that The Lion King character Rafiki belongs to — has just been born at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Park in Walt Disney World Resort!

The tiny baby mandrill might be small and only weigh about three pounds so far, but she belongs to the species that counts as the largest monkey species worldwide. The petite mandrill monkey is named Saffron, and she can be seen here in her loving mother Hazel’s arms.

mandrills at kilimanjaro safaris in animal kingdom park

Credit: Disney Parks Blog

Nothing Like a Mother’s Love

Hazel has been extremely protective of her baby, naturally, and is keeping her far away from the visitors who stop by their home on Kilimanjaro Safaris.

Mothers typically spend more time with their children than fathers do in mandrill society, and Hazel has been keeping her new daughter close (and grooming her to calm her down when she gets upset) since she was born on July 24.

Hazel won’t even let Saffron’s older sister Ivy near her yet!

mandrills at kilimanjaro safaris in animal kingdom park

Ivy, Hazel, and a well-hidden Saffron. Credit: Disney Parks Blog

Colorful Characters, Front and Back!

Disney fans will remember that Rafiki was the wise mandrill who guided Simba in The Lion King (1994), and they will also remember that Rafiki was a very colorful monkey.

Saffron and her family are no different, so someday Saffron will be sporting her own unique blue, pink, red, and yellow patterns on her body or in her mane!

She will also be sporting her own colorful rear end, since their colorful posteriors are used by mandrills to keep track of each other within African forests.

There are around 4,000 wild mandrills left in Africa, so the birth of Saffron (which was possible, in part, due to the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ Species Survival Plan) is just as crucial as these endangered twins’ recent birth was earlier this year.

mandrills at kilimanjaro safaris in animal kingdom park

Credit: Disney Parks Blog

Hope for an Entire Species

Saffron’s birth is arguably even more important than the birth of this adorable new Cinderella companion from a few weeks ago!

Disney’s Animals, Science and Environment department also recently teamed up with Durham University and the Jane Goodall Institute to “help rescued and rehabilitated mandrills return to their native habitats in Republic of the Congo.”

“Through the measuring of hormone levels, our science team at Disney’s Animal Kingdom were able to verify these rehabilitated mandrills were not only thriving after being re-released but also extending the size of the family troop with the addition of two new babies,” the Disney Parks Blog reported.

Congratulations to Hazel, welcome to Saffron, and a big thumbs up to the team of people working behind the scenes at the Animal Kingdom in Walt Disney World Resort!

About Sharon

Sharon is a writer and animal lover from New England. Sharon's two main focuses in her work are Disney's correlations with pop culture and the significance of Disney princesses (which was the basis for her college thesis). When she's not writing about Disney, Sharon spends her time singing, dancing, and cavorting with woodland creatures!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.