The Lion King in Walking With Beasts

When BBC’s Walking With Dinosaurs aired on TV in November of 1999, it became an instant sensation thanks to its boosting in interest of prehistory, something that Jurassic Park had done before. The purpose of the series was to showcase what dinosaurs might actually have been like and how they lived when they were alive 65 million years ago. True that it was inspired by Jurassic Park, but it wanted to be more scientifically accurate to what dinosaurs may have once been like.

The success of the series led to a sequel which knowingly would include no more dinosaurs since the show concluded with their extinction, an emptiness which was filled by their successors, the mammals which is what the new show titled Walking With Beasts followed. Despite dinosaurs having come to represent prehistory for years, it did not belittle the fact that many of the animals on the new show were already familiar to many.

Among these was the sabertoothed cat Smilodon, the epitome of all sabertoothed cats and the one we think of when it comes to this species. Three prehistoric cats appeared in this show’s 4th, 5th and 6th episodes and it was in the middle one that Smilodon was the star of. It followed one Smilodon in particular named Half-Tooth so-called because one of his sabres was broken due to a past battle that he fought.

Interestingly, the plot of the fifth episode is very similar to that of Disney’s The Lion King (as well as its sequel), a pattern hardly noticed which is the reason for this revelation.

  1. The start of Episode 5 shows Half-Tooth saving one of the cubs of his pride from two Phorusrhacos birds. This reflects to when Mufasa saves his son Simba and Nala from the Hyena henchmen of Scar although the events responsible for that are due to Simba disobeying his father’s orders to stay away from the elephant graveyard while it is possible that it was a simple accident in the case of the Smilodon cub who simply must have wandered off and got lost.


  1. When the Smilodon cub attempts to stand his ground against the Phorusrhacos who are hunting him, it is much like when Simba attempts to stand his ground to protect himself and Nala from the Hyenas because it is an immediate prelude to them being saved by Half-Tooth and Mufasa respectively.


  1. Unlike The Lion King, Episode 5 evidently does not start off with a royal birth presentation or ceremony although it does present the variety of wildlife that are around in what is now present-day Paraguay much like in the beginning of The Lion King when the various wildlife of Tanzania are shown going to see the newborn Simba.


  1. The two Smilodon who usurp Half-Tooth’s territory and pride by successfully fighting him away are brothers which is a clear-cut reference to the familial relationship between Mufasa and his jealous and wicked brother Scar except evidently, until the end Mufasa does not realize that Scar is ill-meaning whereas the Smilodon brothers work together.


  1. The victory over Half-Tooth that the Smilodon brothers savour is like how Scar savours his victory over Mufasa and Simba by killing the former and causing the latter to believe that he is responsible for his own father’s death. Both come out in the case of Half-Tooth when he is defeated in battle by the brothers in a nod to Mufasa’s death due to Scar and his exile as a result which references Simba running away in exile due to Scar leading him to believe that he caused Mufasa’s death.


  1. During Half-Tooth’s exile, his procurements in dietary requirements are less-hunting related and more scavenging like as displayed when he steals a young Macrauchenia from a Simba does this too when he is taken in by Timon and Pumbaa thanks to the consumption of grubs.


  1. Scar seizing Mufasa’s Pride after killing him while similar to how the Smilodon brothers take over Half-Tooth’s pride after banishing him is also different because even though the Lionesses in Mufasa’s pride especially his mate Sarabi, Simba’s friend Nala and her mother Sarafina reluctantly give in to Scar’s rule and accept it as well, they still refuse to go along with it to no avail whereas the Smilodon females in Half-Tooth’s Pride despite the death of their cubs at the claws of the brothers only temporarily disdain them because they will son be old enough to mate with the brothers and Scar performs no cub killing in Mufasa’s pride except violates the rules of the Pridelands by allowing his hyena henchmen (and all hyenas alike) to reside in the Pridelands.


  1. Simba’s severing to his (and his father’s) pride due to Scar occurs in his childhood both successfully and his adulthood unsuccessfully. After Mufasa is killed by Scar, Simba is led by him to believe that he caused his father’s death which causes him to run away. When he returns Scar again attempts to blame Mufasa’s death on his son which nearly succeeds when Simba’s Pride think due to Simba’s rollercoaster of emotions based on his past that it is the truth but fails when he accidently reveals to Simba and ultimately to the Pride that he killed Mufasa which absolves Simba of his guilt and wins him the Pride again as they fight Scar. Half-Tooth’s severing to his pride due to the Smilodon brothers is mainly brought to full circle when his cubs are killed although that is undone when he retakes the throne in the end.
  2. Rafiki, the majordomo of Mufasa and later Simba also flees into exile when Scar takes over the pride and he believes Simba dead as well although is elated later on when he discovers that Simba is alive and realizes that things are going to be alright. This is referenced when one of the Smilodon is killed by a Megatherium sloth and Half-Tooth realizes that he now has a chance in regaining his throne since there is no double advantage against him.


  1. The battle between Half-Tooth and the remaining brother while clearly mirroring the battle between Simba and Scar also has similar preludes due to how the Lionesses in the pride attempt to convince Scar in vain to leave the Pridelands because of the drought to which he refuses and similarly, the female Smilodon start to be less tolerant of the remaining brother since he is not the dominant one unlike his brother who is killed by the Megatherium. Also Scar’s actual death came due to his Hyena henchmen who he betrayed rather than from Simba’s fangs and claws which is not the case when the remaining Smilodon brother is fatally injured by Half-Tooth although much like the Hyenas consume Scar after killing him, Phorusrhacos birds do feed on the remaining Smilodon brother following his death although they do not actually kill him.


  1. Half-Tooth retaking his Pride and gaining new cubs in the process is similar to the restoration of Simba’s Pride not just by his return and retaking of it but also the Pridelands seeing the eviction of the drought that came to it through the rains. Both endings involve life continuing for the protagonists in a positive manner as they bask in the Kingdom in success, feeling alive, happy and proud of themselves even though as is known Lions went on to succeed sabertoothed cats as top predators.


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