We’ve all seen Disney’s The Lion King and one of the greatest characters is the warthog, Pumba.
He and another character, Timon the meerkat, adopt a lost Simba the lion cub half way through the movie and raise him up until he is a fully grown lion.
However, over the years, people on the internet have liked to point out this one detail that would ruin the movie – shouldn’t have Simba eaten Pumba?
If you want to find out if this is not true or if Simba really would have eaten one of his closest friends, then keep on reading – we are going to be taking a look at the diets of lions and see if they hunt warthogs or not.
So, let’s find out if one of our favorite childhood movies is ruined!
Do Lions Eat Warthogs?
A lion’s diet is pretty varied and as they are some of the biggest carnivores in Africa, they are capable of hunting down a fair amount of different prey.
The most common meals on a lion’s menu include zebras, antelope, and wildebeest but they will hunt any kind of animal between the weights of 7 stone to 47 stone.
This means that warthogs do sometimes end up on a lion’s menu when it comes to dinner time.
Lions can eat any type of meat as long as it is fresh, so they will quite happily tuck into a warthog if they can hunt one down. The issue is that lions don’t often aim for warthogs.
However, there are two main reasons why lions don’t often hunt warthogs. The first reason is because warthogs are not afraid to fight back.
Lions will not often hunt down animals like large elephants or hippopotamuses because they can do some serious damage when they fight back against the lions.
Even giraffes have very powerful kicks – so lions will always try and hunt down prey that are more likely to try and flee instead of putting up a fight.
Warthogs, despite their small statue compared to lions, will sometimes turn and face a lion head on.
When this happens, the pursuing lion will generally stop and give up.
This is because warthogs have tusks on their heads that are capable of gutting a lion if they attack – so the lion decides that it’s not worth it and heads off to find their dinner somewhere else.
However, lions have been seen hunting down a warthog and killing it. If the warthog does not make a stand, then the lion is likely to bring it down.
Most warthogs will turn around and face a lion at some point, which is why you don’t often see a lion eating a warthog even though they do see them as a potential source of food.
The other reason why lions do not often hunt down warthogs is because they are relatively small, which means they will be a much smaller meal than other types of animals.
While lions can go days without eating, they usually eat a quarter of their body weight in a single sitting – which means that a warthog is not going to feed a single lion yet alone a whole pride!
In dire situations, a lion will not turn away from hunting a warthog unless they can afford to be more choosy.
They would prefer to hunt down larger prey like zebras or gazelles that offer a lot more energy and nutrients to feed more members of the pride.
To put it bluntly, a warthog is like a snack to lions whereas a zebra is a full meal.
There’s not much point in a lion constantly hunting warthogs when there’s a much bigger buffet on the savannah.
But, there are situations when a warthog is the better target.
If a lion hasn’t eaten in days and a warthog is nearby, then they will probably try hunting it down just for a bit of nourishment.
Sometimes, a lioness will leave their pride to give birth to her cubs in solitude and she will be forced to hunt alone instead of with several of her fellow pride members.
A single lioness will have more success bringing down a warthog compared to a whole wildebeest due to the difference in size, and the warthog will be plenty enough nourishment for her and her surviving cubs.
Also, nomad lions who are expelled from their birth prides once they reach maturity are less likely to successfully hunt due to their large manes.
So, a warthog is a great target for them too!
Why Doesn’t Simba Eat Pumba?
So, lions can and do hunt down warthogs – so why does Simba eat Pumba in the movie The Lion King?
The easy answer is that it’s a kid’s movie. Simba and Pumba are friends and Simba has been raised on a diet of bugs, meaning that he does not need to eat Pumba.
However, when the lioness Nala appears, her first instinct is to hunt Pumba – because she is a lone lioness in need of a meal and Pumba is a stranger to her.
So, Disney has taken some liberty with wildlife behavior in the Serengeti.
In the real world, a warthog would never raise a lion cub with a meerkat and even if it did, the lion would definitely take the opportunity to hunt it down once it is old enough.
This obviously does not happen in The Lion King, but what do you expect from a movie with talking cartoon lions?
Although they don’t have much to gain from choosing a warthog over a zebra, there are instances where a lion will hunt down and eat a warthog.
In zoos, warthogs are off the menu because it’s too cruel and expensive for them to order the hunting and shipment of actual warthog meat but the lions in captivity are pretty happy with the alternatives of beef and mutton.