The Elephant Graveyard is a location seen in The Lion King franchise. It is a barren wasteland filled with the remains of elephants who have died. Shenzi, Banzai, and Ed and their clan used to live there.
The Elephant Graveyard is located beyond a rise that marks the northern border of the Pride Lands, and was supposedly discovered by the first king. It is a dry, barren, rocky wasteland, perpetually covered in fog that casts a shadow over the area even in the daytime. Bones of dead elephants litter the landscape. The area is geothermally active, containing many steam vents.
The graveyard is named after the various elephants whose skeletons litter the area. It is also known for the numerous geysers that were located there. The graveyard is visible from Pride Rock as a shadowy area. It has been speculated that part of the reason the elephant graveyard is such a terrible place is because the hyenas live there, especially considering what they did to the Pride Lands during their residence there.
The graveyard has two "districts": the graveyard district where most of the bones of dead elephants lie with only a few boilers, which is where Simba and Nala visit; and the geyser district, which has geysers, boilers, and suffers from earth tremors and explosions of lava. This is where the song Be Prepared is performed.
One morning, Mufasa takes his son Simba to the top of Pride Rock and, in the expanding light of the sun, shows the young cub the vast expanse of the Pride Lands. However, when Simba asks about a "shadowy place" he sees in the distance, Mufasa gravely responds that it is beyond their borders, and that Simba must never go there.
Simba's uncle Scar, however, is actively planning the cub's death. After having arranged with three hyenas named Shenzi, Banzai, and Ed to kill Simba once he induces him to go the location. He plays upon Simba's curiosity about the "shadowy place" and desire to prove his bravery by "accidentally" revealing that it is an Elephant Graveyard. Impressed, Simba is determined to go there, despite his father's instruction. He invites his friend, a female cub named Nala, along. The two cubs trick their mothers into letting them leave Pride Rock, ostensibly to go and see something interesting by the watering hole. Simba's mother, Queen Sarabi, insists that Zazu chaperone them. The cubs, however, manage to lose the hornbill. In their glee, they playfully tackle each other. However they do not notice how close they have come to the graveyard and, while playing, both of them fall down a slope, into the area.
Looking around amidst the elephant bones, they approach an elephant skull. Nala comments to Simba about the trouble they could get into by coming to the graveyard, but Simba is unconcerned. They move to investigate the skull. A very nervous Zazu catches up to them and stops them, saying urgently tells them they all have to leave immediately, as they are in very serious danger. Simba airily brushes him off, responding that he laughs at danger. However, Shenzi, Banzai, and Ed then come out of the skull, slinking towards the two cubs and the hornbill, making no secret about their intention to devour them.
The cubs try to escape and the hyenas chase them through the graveyard, managing to catch up to Zazu. They take him to one of the geysers (which they call the "Birdie Boiler") and launch him out of the graveyard. After catching back up with the cubs, the hyenas resume the chase. Simba and Nala are seen riding down an elephant spine and climbing up a massive hill of bones. They are later cornered against a gigantic rock wall. But just as the hyenas are about to swoop in for the kill, Mufasa rescues them. After the hyenas run away in fear, Mufasa orders Zazu to take Nala home. Mufasa scolds his son for deliberately disobeying him, and expresses disappointment in Simba for getting himself nearly killed and putting Nala in great danger too. As Simba tells his father that he was attempting to show bravery, Mufasa reminds him that being brave does not mean that one should go looking for trouble. He then admits about being scared himself because he almost lost his son, and he and Simba eventually reconcile.
Later, the hyenas are seen in a different part of the graveyard. This part of the graveyard has a greenish tint to it and is littered with geysers. Scar performs Be Prepared while in the graveyard, and numerous hyenas join in. This is the last time the graveyard is seen in the movie.
Some years after Scar's death, when Zira is planning to overtake the Pride Lands, she sends Nuka and Vitani to fetch fire from the Elephant Graveyard. The two go to the graveyard, and Nuka comments that it was even creepier since the hyenas ran off, suggesting that he has been there before. (Additionally, Nuka's comment suggests the Hyenas have abandoned the Elephant Graveyard for unknown reasons). Vitani rolls her eyes and Nuka insists that he wasn't scared. But when he hears one of the geysers hiss, he lets out a yelp and leaps off a rock ledge. Vitani put down the sticks on the geyser, then light their sticks on fire and leave the cavern that Kiara started her hunt, Nuka laughing maniacally and excitedly as he goes.
In the episode Tarzan and the Eagle's Feather, Tarzan and Basuli must venture into an Elephant Graveyard to reach an eagle's nest to retrieve a feather in order for Basuli to marry his betrothed, Naoh. After the duo encounter a series of misfortunes along the way, including a fallen tree knocking them into the river and a rhinoceros herd stampede, they enter the Elephant Graveyard, much to Basuli's dismay, as he and the Waziri believe that this brings bad luck. Tarzan then says that they can make their own luck, but Basuli cites his sharing of the beliefs of his people, and Tarzan apologizes. However, when a rock slide starts, Tarzan wonders if someone is interfering. Sure enough, he finds the villainous Waziri warrior, Muviro, trying to kill Basuli in order to replace him as the Waziri chief and Naoh's betrothed. Fortunately, Basuli defeats and banishes him from the tribe for his treachery. Tarzan and Basuli then proceed on their quest for the eagle's feather before retrieving it and returning to the Waziri village.
- “I mean, sure it needs a little work, but it's got good bones. Heh-heh-heh. After all, this is an Elephant Graveyard. And, who would ever come to an Elephant Graveyard?”
When Timon and Pumbaa are looking for a new home, Timon decides to settle in the Elephant Graveyard, after Pumbaa asks where they should go. Timon tries to convince himself as well as Pumbaa that the graveyard would make a good home, but falls into an elephant skull in the process. He claims that the place needed a bit of cleaning up, but that it would eventually be home sweet home, since it has "good bones." Shortly afterward, Timon and Pumbaa see Mufasa rush by to rescue Simba and Nala from the hyenas, and they barely get out of the way in time. Shaken up, they then go to a different part of the graveyard, on which Timon comments that the steam is good since it's water, and that water is mandatory. Timon seems happy in the place, but Pumbaa isn't as optimistic, especially when they are confronted by Scar's army of hyenas singing. Timon and Pumbaa quickly leave, river-dancing as the hyenas are goose-stepping so as to blend in and not be seen.
The Elephant Graveyard appears in the 2019 live-action remake. Instead of being made up of elephant skeletons, it is a rocky wasteland filled with rotting elephant bones, pools of hot, bubbling mud (or possibly tar), towering spires called arroyos and labyrinths of small tunnels called karsts. According to Scar, the Elephant Graveyard once teemed with life until the hyenas stripped clean the lands in their desire to satiate their hunger.
- There is more than one Elephant Graveyard as revealed in The Elephant's Graveyard. This new graveyard resides near the oasis.
- The elephant skeletons here seem to be unusually huge, as one hyena couldn't squeeze through a normal sized elephant's eye socket let alone three. It was fixed in the 2019 remake.
- The skeleton that Simba and Nala see first (the same one from where the hyenas exit) bears tusks more akin to the that of a mammoth instead of an African elephant; as mammoths (specifically Mammuthus africanavus, the aptly named African mammoth) did live in Africa three million years ago, it could be interpreted that the Elephant Graveyard is far older than implied in any of the films.
- As seen during "Be Prepared", other animals' skeletons can be found in the graveyard, not only elephants.
- Scar mentions that the Elephant Graveyard is beyond a rise at the Northern border of the kingdom; however, when Simba sees it from the top of Pride Rock. (Scar said it's on the Northern boarder of the Pride Lands.).
- Rafiki includes this resting place on his map of landmarks leading to the Tree of Life.
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