In the movie, Gopher has brown fur, creamy brown chest fur, buck teeth, and a brownish nose. In the television series, his design has been changed as his eyes are more widened, his nose is black, his teeth have been shortened, his outer fur is noticeably more darker brown while his chest fur is relatively brown.
In the original theatrical version of The Lion King, Gopher briefly appears right after Zazu is pounced by Simba during a pouncing lesson, and tells him that the hyenas have invaded the Pride Lands. Afterwards, his further fate is unknown.
In the 2003 Special Edition version of the film, when Zazu begins singing "The Morning Report", Gopher pops up from a pile of dirt, and is spotted by Simba who tries to pounce him, but Gopher pops back inside the dirt. Gopher reappears, trying to get Mufasa's attention, but Simba notices him again, so the gopher hides back in the dirt. For the third time, Gopher reappears near a small rock, and Simba notices him again to try to pounce him, but Gopher disappears again, and Simba hits his head on the rock. Mufasa notices Simba's activity, and tries to get him to pounce Zazu. Simba quietly pounces Zazu, and launches him away with his mouth, and Gopher reappears telling Zazu that the hyenas are in the Pride Lands. Like in the original theatrical release, his further fate is unknown.
Gopher appears in the Zazu-centered episodes in the television series, though his design in the series is noticeably different from his first appearance.
When Zazu arrives home, he finds it trashed. He calls Gopher, who tells him that he was reorganizing and shows him that the jungle inspector is coming soon. Panicked, Zazu and Gopher clean up the mess and place it outside. However, Gopher tells Zazu that the inspector is at the same place Zazu put the mess.
Zazu opens the door, which causes the mess to get back in, and finds the inspector in the trash can. The inspector tells Zazu that list of animals is incomplete, stating that he forgot to count one animal. After showing Zazu that he's off-by-one, he fires the hornbill and gives the job to Gopher. When Zazu gets kicked out of his tree, he goes on a quest to find the one animal he forgot to count.
After Rafiki makes Zazu realize that the one animal he forgot to count was himself, the hornbill flies home and finds some animals incorrectly placed. He sees that Gopher is responsible for this. The inspector scolds Gopher for his job, which the gopher replies that being a jungle administrator is a very difficult job for one animal to do. Zazu returns and agrees with what Gopher says. He states that Gopher is better off working as a jungle administrator's assistant.
When Zazu shows the inspector is now-complete list of animals, the inspector apologizes to the hornbill for firing him and gives him his job back. However, Zazu and Gopher's jobs are switched: the mole is the jungle administrator while Zazu is his assistant.
It's Zazu's day off, but before he can enjoy it, Gopher brings him news that an elephant named Jumbo Jumbo is blocking the river, causing all the animals to die of thirst.
When Zazu finds Jumbo Jumbo, he tries to convince him to move out of the way, but he refuses to do so. Gopher gives Zazu a Standard Jungle Animal Contract signed by Jumbo Jumbo. Zazu takes the contract and reminds Jumbo Jumbo that he has signed the Circle of Life form, but the elephant eats the form and blows the pieces out on Zazu.
Zazu tries to find a book that could give him advice on how to make Jumbo Jumbo move. The hornbill finally finds a book and follows the first attempt, which is to get into the water and use various weapons to make Jumbo Jumbo move. The attempt unfortunately fails and therefore, Zazu finds another way to make Jumbo Jumbo leave the river, which is to pretend to be a mouse.
After Zazu's second attempt fails, Gopher suggests that instead of trying to make Jumbo Jumbo move, he can try to make it rain on the dry side of the river. When this attempt unfortunately fails, Zazu gives up.
Jumbo Jumbo tells Zazu that the reason he was at the river in the first place is because he believes it's his day off. Zazu calls Gopher to give him a form to show the elephant that it is actually his day off. Jumbo Jumbo apologizes and goes back to his herd, leaving the river to splash on Zazu and sending him to his tree. When Zazu can finally enjoy the rest of his day off, Gopher tells him that it's Jumbo Jumbo's real day off the next day. This makes Zazu pass out, as he thinks the elephant will block the river once again and thus, he will have to try to make him move.
- According to the August 1993 script written by the film's screenwriters, the character is properly identified as a gopher. However, according to David Cleary's article on Thumper.net, gophers only live in North America, Europe, and Asia. Cleary theorized that the character's species is either a blesmol (family Bathyergidae, 9 species in 5 genera) or an African mole-rat (subfamily Rhizomyinae, genus Tachyoryctes, 13 species); these types of animals are native to sub-Saharan Africa, are about the size and shape of gophers, have very prominent gnawing incisors, dig extensive underground tunnels, and have visible (though very small) eyes.
- This could also be the reason why he was absent in the 2019 remake of The Lion King, in which gophers are not native to Africa in real life. Instead, this scene was replaced by Zazu flying around to search for what is going on in the Pride Lands to which Zazu flies back to Mufasa telling him there are hyenas in the Pride Lands.
- Cleary also theorized that the animators may have taken extensive liberty with the animal coloring of the gopher in the movie. This is indeed true as according to Internet Movie Database's trivia page for The Lion King, the character was originally going to be a naked gopher, but the animators couldn't get the character to look right. One of the directors said, "We would've lost our G rating!"
- Cleary, David. "The Identity of TLK's "Gopher"". Thumper.net.
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