- “I'm Kopa. I'm a prince. And I'm not scared of anything!”
- ―Kopa in Vulture Shock
Kopa shares many similarities with his father from his cubhood. He is known to be adventurous, curious, and loves listening to stories. He's very enthusiastic and playful in almost every action he takes. Kopa also shares Simba's enthusiasm in the prospect of becoming king; he loves to brag about his position as prince to his friends and is quite proud of his lineage. He's eager to help his father in his duties as king, and follows Simba around whenever there's a crisis to be settled. He also has a rampant imagination, as he almost always mentions monsters before a storytelling. Another important personality trait of Kopa's is pride, as he is often afraid of looking weak or scared. This is attributed to the fact that Kopa wants to be a strong king, and is determined to act mature and grown-up.
- “Kopa, you're just like your father when he was about your age.”
- ―Nala about her son
At first glance, Kopa seems to share many features with his father. However, by analyzing some of his more intricate traits, it can be safely said that he actually resembles Mufasa more than he does his father.
As far as build goes, Kopa is stockier when compared to Simba, though they are about the same size in terms of height. In addition to being slightly bigger, Kopa also has more prominent features. For example, his eyebrows are thicker than Simba's and his jawline is much more prominent.
Though both cubs have or had a hair tuft, Kopa's is much spikier and grayish-brown in color, while Simba's head tuft was the same shade as his main pelt. Kopa's fur is also lighter, as well as a bit richer, being a pale gold as opposed to Simba's darker hues. This trait most likely comes from his mother, who is tawny in color. These lighter hues mixed with Simba's gold to result in a rich yellow.
Kopa's eyes are red, like his grandfather's, sister's, and father's eyes. He also sports ear rims and long whiskers. His chest fur, muzzle, and paws are colored, like Simba's, and his tail tuft is brown. The shape of his nose also resembles his father, as well as his eyebrows and the colors of his eye shades.
- “Great Uncle Scar was a real creep!”
- ―Kopa after hearing Rafiki's story
Kopa is first seen playing with his hyrax friend, Pimbi. The lion cub leaps eagerly at Pimbi, but the hyrax leaps easily out of the way and Kopa crumples to the ground in a heap of fur and tail. Pimbi laughs at Kopa and says, "some king you'll make." But Kopa just shakes the dust off his fur and proudly reminds Pimbi that he'll one day rule the Pride Lands, since his father, Simba, was the lion king. But Pimbi continues to laugh at him, telling Kopa that he wouldn't make a good king unless he learned how to pounce properly. Kopa, in his own defense, says that Simba was planning to give him more lessons on pouncing later, but is suddenly reminded of something important. Simba was supposed to show him something very special that day! With a hasty good-bye, Kopa promises Pimbi he'll tell him all about it tomorrow, then rushes off toward Pride Rock. Simba was going to show Kopa the Pride Lands from the top of Pride Rock!
Simba had told Kopa that it was a tradition for the future king to be shown the Pride Lands from atop Pride Rock, and that Mufasa had shown Simba his land from the same spot. Kopa had never known Mufasa, but had heard wonderful things about him from all the older animals and from Zazu, the king's majordomo. Kopa thought that Simba was a good king too, even if he was really busy and didn't have a lot of time to spend with his son. As Kopa nears Pride Rock, he sees his mother, Nala, lying on one of Pride Rock's ledges. As Kopa approaches her, she asks him if he had had fun playing with Pimbi. Kopa, a bit confused, asks how she had known what he was doing. But Nala just licks him and tells him that she can see everything that moves on the plain from the top of Pride Rock. Kopa just responds by saying, "Creepy." But just at that moment, Simba bounds up onto the ledge with Zazu and Rafiki following close behind. The three are talking urgently, and Nala tells Kopa that it's another crisis at the watering hole.
Kopa rushes up to his father, telling Simba that he was ready to go. Simba nuzzles Kopa, then turns to Zazu and Rafiki, asking them if there was anything they could do about the water crisis. Both tell him that the animals wouldn't listen to them. With a sigh, Simba turns back to Kopa and says that he wouldn't be able to take him up to Pride Rock that day. And not until the crisis had subsided. Kopa, greatly hurt and disappointed, reminds Simba in a whisper that he had promised to take him there. But Nala interjects, and gently tells Kopa that Simba had certain duties and responsibilities as king. But Kopa once more whispers that Simba had promised. Simba turns to Rafiki and asks the baboon to explain Simba's responsibilities to the young cub. But the baboon surprises Simba by saying that he agreed with Kopa, since great kingdoms had suffered because of broken promises. Simba begins to question Rafiki, but the baboon interrupts, and tells Kopa to listen to a story about "a king, a prince, and a great enemy." Kopa gets excited and asks if the enemy was "a hairy giant with purple eyes," but Rafiki says no. Instead, the enemy had a scar down the side of his left cheek. Simba, Nala, and Zazu all immediately know that Rafiki is talking about Scar, the tyrannical lion who had murdered Simba's father, Mufasa.
Rafiki tells Kopa the story. After the story is over, Kopa comments on how amazing Ahadi and Mufasa had been, and Rafiki reminds him that Uru was amazing as well, for she discovered a lake on the western edge of the Pride Lands, saving many animals from thirst. Zazu then states proudly that his mother, Zuzu, was correct when she said that her family would be proud, and that her whole family was honored to be given the position as majordomo to the lion kings. Simba then comments that Zazu had served the kings well ever since. Kopa tells Rafiki that it was an amazing story....and that his great-uncle Scar had been a "real creep." Simba thanks Rafiki for the wonderful story and says that it had taught him a great lesson. Kopa agrees with him. Simba continues by saying that he was reminded of how much had gone into the making of the Pride Lands and how important loved ones were. He nuzzles both Nala and Kopa. He then says that promises were important as well. Kopa, excited at this, asks Simba if he really "meant it," and Simba confirms Kopa's excited thoughts, announcing that he would take his mate and son up to the top of Pride Rock. After all, "it's a tradition." Rafiki smiles at this and says, "and a wise one at that."
- “When I'm the Lion King, I'll roar so loud the umbrella thorn trees will drop their leaves!”
- ―Kopa brags to Jambo and Kwaheri
Kopa is first seen playing with his monkey friends, Jambo and Kwaheri. Kopa brags that when he's the Lion King, he'll roar so loud the leaves will drop off the trees! He scampers after his monkey friends and boasts that he's the bravest of the brave, keeping a careful eye on them to make sure they're watching. But as he says this, he trips and falls over a broken tree branch. The two monkeys laugh and tease him. A bit embarrassed, Kopa gets up again and asks the monkeys to drop it.
Jambo changes the subject by challenging his friend to a game of, "I-dare-you." Kopa and Kwaheri eagerly agree, and Kopa gives out the first dare, telling Jambo to swing from a short acacia tree to a really tall one. The monkey is confident and skillfully completes the dare. Kwaheri congratulates his friend, then dares Kopa to jump off a pointed rock. Kopa acts brave and confident as he scampers toward the rock. He climbs up the rock and then leaps back to the ground, shouting, "Look out below!" as he falls. The monkeys cheer, but before Kopa can enjoy the attention, Zazu comes fluttering out of the sky. Kopa is disappointed that Zazu has interrupted his game and mutters under his breath that Zazu was a "flying pest." Zazu asks Kopa what he'd just said, but Kopa says, "Nothing." Zazu then reminds Kopa that he is Simba's steward and is in charge of Kopa's welfare, to which Kopa says he knows.
Zazu then starts to rant about a report he was going to give to Simba, and Kopa struggles not to yawn. The hornbill then warns Kopa to stay away from the gorge, for the waters were unusually high after so much rainfall and the rocks were slippery. Kopa acknowledges Zazu's warning and the hornbill flies off, exclaiming that he's late. As soon as Zazu is gone, Jambo and Kwaheri race up to Kopa and tell him that they had another dare for him: they dare him to catch them. Kopa agrees to this and the monkeys take off. When they reach the gorge, the two monkeys, who were already in the trees, dare Kopa to jump across the gorge. Kopa at first agrees, but then gets nervous due to the slippery rocks and rushing water. After some more taunting from the monkeys, he then runs off.
Shaken from his experience and hurt from being called a 'scaredy cat', he crawls in to a hole and starts crying. He is startled by a noise, but is relieved to find it's Rafiki. Kopa asks the old mandrill how he knew where he was, and Rafiki responds that he wasn't looking for him, and why should he look for a cub who was foolish enough to crawl into a hyena's den. After overcoming his initial surprise, Kopa claims he's not afraid of hyenas and that he wants to be as fearless and as daring as his parents. Rafiki then tells him to get his mother, Nala, to tell him the story of Ni if he thinks that they are fearless as he believes. Overcome with curiosity, Kopa runs home to Pride Rock and asks his mother to tell him the story. When she asks him how he found out, he tells her Rafiki told him. Simba is curious since he doesn't know the story.
After the story, Kopa goes out to play again (if anything so he won't have to listen to Zazu's report). This time, he's feeling much better and has learned that taking dares is necessarily courageous, but rather foolishness. He encounters the two monkeys, Jambo and Kwahiri, who dare him to try to hang from the tree branch by his tail. Kopa, knowing he is not capable of dangling from his tail like the monkeys, tells them he can't do that and won't even try. The monkeys then begin calling him a "scaredy cat" and his response to them is a quote from the story of Ni, "Lions who listen to the chattering of monkeys never learn to roar". He walks off from the two confused monkeys, all the while being observed by Rafiki, the one who originally said the quote.
When a crisis comes up at the water hole between the antelope and a Hippo named Kiboko, Kopa tries to follow his father to the scene of the fray. As he leaves, Nala calls out after him, trying to convince him to hunt, but Kopa reacts with disgust, calling it "girl stuff." Nala laughingly sends him on his way.
Before reaching the water hole, Kopa stops to talk to other members of his pride, including Babu, Boga, Leo, Mega, Ngawa, and Sabini. The cub tries to tell his friends about the fight between the antelope and Kiboko, but Sabini ignores him, mentioning Simba's family tree to Leo. Not fully understanding the older lions, Kopa asks about his family tree, and the others laugh at him, amused at his naivety. Kopa's temper flares as the others make fun of him, and he demands to know where his family tree is. Recognizing the cub's frustration, Mega tells Kopa to ask his father about their family tree, and the young cub scurries off to talk with Simba.
Once at the water hole, Kopa attempts to get his father's attention, but Simba is distracted by the pestering remarks of the antelope. Unable to talk to his son in the middle of the crisis, Simba orders Kopa away. Hurt at his father's rejection, Kopa resolves to find his family tree by himself.
The cub begins to search avidly for his family tree, avoiding the perimeters of the Pride Lands, as his father had warned him about straying away from their territory. However, when Kopa spots a lizard, he chases it hungrily into the desert, where he soon loses his way among the blistering heat and scruffy bushes. Too frightened to go any farther, he settles himself into the sand, where he is soon found by Chewa and Choyo, two conniving vultures. While examining the cub, they realize that he is the prince of the Pride Lands. Seizing the opportunity to weasel something out of Simba, they hold him for ransom so that Simba will be forced to send them prey in exchange for his son's life. Sure enough, Simba and Nala are frantically looking for Kopa back home, worried about his long absence.
With no option of escape, Kopa is forced into a high nest, where the vultures hold him ransom until they can contact his parents. Starved and scared, the cub is surrounded by three friendlier vultures, The Buzzard Boyz, who sing to him as he listens politely from the nest. Though Kopa enjoys the music, the three vultures admit that their flock does not appreciate their voices. They then inform Kopa that Chewa plans to hold the cub ransom until Simba sends food their way. Not liking this turn in the conversation, Kopa asks for another song, and the vultures happily comply. He then complains that he can't hear them over the growling of his stomach, and the vultures happily fly off to bring him back food.
When the vultures return with food for Kopa, the cub is shocked to hear that the flock wants to exchange his life for that of animals in the Pride Lands. The Buzzard Boyz assure him that he and his future subjects will be safe, for they have a plan. Without explaining it to Kopa, they fly off to talk to Simba. Once in the Pride Lands, they use riddles and songs to inform the king and queen where their son is.
While waiting for the vultures, Kopa sits in his high nest. Soon enough, he sees a great crowd of animals trooping through the desert, among them Rafiki and Zazu. At first, the vultures are elated, but then Simba and Nala step out from among the ranks, demanding the return of their son. The vultures are forced to comply, and Rafiki climbs up Kopa's tree to fetch the cub.
Once reunited with his parents, Kopa is apologized to by Simba, who explains what a family tree really is. He tells the cub that their entire history has been recorded for them to see, dating back to their great-great-great-grandparents. As the Buzzard Boyz look on, the family and their subjects return home.
Timon and Pumbaa are preparing to take a nap when they are interrupted by Kopa, who accidentally crashes into them with his mother, Nala, following close behind. Nala laughs at Kopa and says, "Kopa, you're just like Simba when he was your age!" But Kopa just crinkles his nose and sniffs loudly. Nala asks him what's wrong and Timon does the same. But Kopa gets mad and yells at them both, claiming that he's perfectly fine. Timon pats Kopa on the head and tells Nala to leave him with them, for they would cheer him up by talking about science. Nala quickly agrees, says good-bye to Kopa, then heads for Pride Rock.
Timon and Pumbaa sit down beside Kopa and ask him what's wrong. They ask if "a girl cub" knocked him down, since Nala used to knock Simba down all the time. When Kopa hears this, he is greatly surprised, appalled that anyone could knock his father down. But he then remembers that he's in a bad mood and begins snapping again, not telling either of his friends what's wrong. Timon and Pumbaa try to persuade the young cub to tell them, but he continues to get even angrier, and even yells out, "Who cares anyway?" Timon then responds by saying that he doesn't care, and when he asks Pumbaa the same thing, the two begin to argue, and Kopa, exasperated with them both, decides to tell them what's wrong.
Kopa asks if they knew about Afua, Kopa's best friend, and they both tell him that they do. But Kopa surprises them by saying that Afua is a "dope" and that he hates him. Timon and Pumbaa try to ask why Afua was a dope, but Kopa says, "he's stupid, that's all." Timon and Pumbaa get into a debate whether Afua was "smart last week," and soon begin to have another argument. But Kopa says that the real problem was that Afua only wanted to hang out with Beba, a cheetah cub, and didn't want to play with Kopa anymore. Kopa explains that Afua thought that Beba was "the fastest runner and the best climber and the highest jumper around," and that he was better than Kopa.
Timon and Pumbaa, inspired by what Kopa said, remember a story from when they were younger, in which both them and Simba all got into a huge argument, learning to hate each other, and not wanting to talk to one another. Timon and Pumbaa continue by saying that not one of them knew it, but that they were being tricked into hating each other. This, of course, sparks Kopa's attention and he asks them what happened. But Pumbaa interrupts by suggesting that Kopa may only be mad at Afua because he's jealous of Beba. Kopa is infuriated at this and starts to leave, but Timon and Pumbaa both say that they were jealous when arguing with each other. Kopa stops, still curious, and Timon and Pumbaa go on to explain that the argument was the fault of the python, Joka. They then tell Kopa their story.
When the story is over, Kopa is amazed and eagerly asks what happened next. Timon and Pumbaa explain the ending of the story, and Kopa asks if the three friends ever made up, to which Timon chuckles and says that it took a while before Pumbaa fully believed that Joka had been lying. Kopa asks how he ended up realizing that Timon and Simba were right, and Pumbaa says that he believed it when Timon said it with his own mouth. And the three made up, realizing that they had been friends for too long to split up over silly rumors. Kopa, who had been listening with rapt attention, then admits that maybe he should go and talk to Afua, since the lion cub may not mean any harm in saying that Beba is better at everything than Kopa. Both Timon and Pumbaa agree with this and encourage Kopa to make up with his friend. Kopa then runs off to go and find Afua.
Kopa has a smaller role in this book. While Simba is trying to take a nap, Kopa begins yelling for him and jumps onto his stomach. Simba groans and looks up at Kopa, who's standing on his chest. Kopa begins bouncing up and down, asking his dad to wrestle with him, since they hadn't wrestled since that morning. Simba is amused and asks him if it had really been that long. He gently bats Kopa on the head and Kopa charges at him and butts him with his head. But Simba grabs his head and flips him over, playfully taunting him as he fights. But as they're fighting, Zazu interjects and Simba looks up to see him standing beside Rafiki.
Rafiki tells Simba that he didn't have as many acacia trees as he thought, and that there had been more when Mufasa was king. Kopa asks Rafiki where the trees had gone, and Rafiki explains that most were killed by the elephants, while others were killed by disease and neglect. Kopa then turns to Simba and urges him to talk the elephants out of destroying the trees. Simba asks if it could wait, for he hadn't had time to himself all day. Zazu comments that a king's work is never finished. Simba groans and Kopa scampers off.
Later, Nala is talking to Zazu when Kopa comes skidding around the corner. Sliding into Zazu, he knocks the hornbill over and declares that he "got him." Zazu squawks and Nala scolds her son, reminding him that he knew better. Kopa innocently declares that he slipped, and Zazu gets back to his feet, muttering that his dignity was still intact. Nala smiles apologetically at Zazu and gives him a sincere apology. He knew how cubs could be sometimes, getting carried away with themselves. Nala pauses and then asks if Zazu would mind watching Kopa while she went to talk with Simba. Zazu protests, but Nala tells him that she wouldn't be long. Zazu sees Kopa grinning at him and reluctantly agrees.
Nala orders Kopa to be good and gives him an affectionate lick, causing him to complain. Nala then leaves, and Kopa asks Zazu what he wants to play. Zazu offers they play dead and lie down without saying a word. But Kopa disagrees, telling Zazu that he wanted to play good guys and bad guys. He would be the bad guy and he would chase the good guy. Zazu exclaims in protest, but Kopa begins slinking forward, warning the "good guy" to look out, for the bad guy was coming. Zazu continues shouting protest and backing away, but Kopa only growls and springs forward. Zazu turns to run, whining to himself that he hates babysitting. He then starts yelling for help.
When Simba is on his journey to save Grass Walls, he sees a young baboon, Mosi, get taken by a leopard. He automatically thinks of his own son and goes after the leopard, fueled by a love for Kopa.
Zazu is babysitting Kopa while his mother, Nala, is out hunting and his father is taking a nap. Kopa asks Zazu why the sky is blue, and Zazu explains that the earth loved the color so much, that it spread it all across the sky for everyone to look at. Kopa then asks why trees grow so tall, and Zazu answers that the trees like the flavor of the air that's higher. Zazu doesn't say so aloud, but feels as if the morning is going to be full of questions. The two are resting on Pride Rock, overlooking the grasslands and blue hills.
Kopa asks Zazu why he flies so far over the Pride Lands, and Zazu explains that he needs to see everything so he can report to Simba. But as he answers, Zazu stares at the Zuberi River shining in the distance. He thinks wistfully to himself about how wonderful it would be to fly to Zulu Falls. Kopa interrupts his thoughts by asking why Zazu needed to report to Simba. Zazu says that it's important for Simba to know what's going on in the Pride Lands, but Kopa again asks why. Zazu sighs and reminds himself that he couldn't go to Zulu Falls: Kopa would keep him too busy. But Zazu decides to get rid of the questions by telling Kopa a story. Kopa is delighted and asks Zazu if the story had anything to do with a giant purple monster with three horns and sharp teeth. Zazu surprises Kopa by telling him that it actually kind of did. Kopa tells Zazu that he's all ears and is reminded of his mother, who had once said the same thing to Simba. The young cub feels very grown up using his mother's words on Zazu.
Zazu begins the story by telling Kopa that news-spreading has always been a tradition in Zazu's family. He reminds the cub that Zuzu was steward to Kopa's great-grandfather, Ahadi. He explains that Zuzu had been training him to take her place since he was a fledgling, in hopes that he would become steward to Ahadi's son, Mufasa. Zazu tells Kopa that Simba, Mufasa's son, had been next in line to receive the throne, but Mufasa's evil brother, Scar, wanted to be king. He then goes on to tell the story of The Lion King. Kopa recognizes the story and adds input at the end, talking about how his father defeated Scar and became the new lion king.
Zazu tells Kopa that all this had happened before Kopa was born, and that the story Zazu was going to tell happened before Simba was born, when Mufasa was the new lion king. Kopa asks if "Uncle Scar" was in the story, but Zazu denies this, reminding Kopa that Scar wasn't happy about Mufasa's rule and couldn't bear to be near his brother when he was ruling the Pride Lands. Scar spent most of his time away from Pride Rock, skulking or plotting with the hyenas.
Zazu goes on to explain that Mufasa was busy learning how to rule. He wasn't giving Scar much thought back then. Kopa asks if this was when Zazu became steward, and Zazu confirms this. He explains that when Zuzu saw what a fine leader Mufasa was becoming, she decided to let Zazu take over her position. Mufasa made Zazu steward in her place and Zuzu flew away down the Zuberi River, there to spend the rest of her days in peace. Zazu was on his own. But he had learned well from his mother, "perhaps too well." He made the mistake of reporting everything he saw to Mufasa. Kopa asks what's wrong with this, and Zazu explains that it isn't necessary to report everything that's going on. Back then, he couldn't tell the difference between important information and news that just wasn't big enough. He tried to tell Mufasa all that was going on, so bad things wouldn't happen. Kopa asks why bad things did happen, and Zazu explains that every choice has a consequence and that it's important to think of others. He gives Kopa the example that by uprooting a bush on a plain, you might be destroying a little critter's home, or by telling someone there's danger when there's really not, someone might get hurt.
Kopa realizes that it's important what he does and says, and Zazu agrees. He then explains that he had kept poking his beak into everyone's business because he was so worried someone might get hurt; and it often led to trouble. Kopa asks about the kind of trouble he got into, and Zazu tells him that once, he had overheard two ostriches talking about "beating" another ostrich. He didn't like the sound of that, so he reported it to Mufasa, who went to the ostriches and found out that they were talking about "beating" another ostrich in a kicking contest. Kopa asks Zazu how he kept from making that mistake again, and Zazu explains that he checks out the situation carefully before acting on it, so he can have a clear idea of what's going on. He remembers his first summer as steward in particular, because of the terrible results of his prying and the lesson everyone learned from it.
When the story is nearly over, Kopa asks if that was it and Zazu says, "Not quite." He then goes on to say that the young animals who had discredited him felt so guilty about lying to him that they confessed to Mufasa. The king was furious, but fair. He told the young ones to tell their parents, and they once more confessed. Nzuri explained how fed up they'd been with Zazu's nosiness, but they now understand the danger of lying; especially to someone who looked out for their safety. Their parents were angry and wanted to punish them severely, but Mufasa gave the animals a different punishment. From then on, they were to gather news about all important events in the Pride Lands. That way, they would recognize the difference between fact and fiction and would always have to be responsible for their words. Kopa says that that was why Rafiki always said, "When the mouth is bigger than the brain, the feet won't stay on the path." Zazu also quotes Rafiki: "If the coconut bounces too high when it falls from the tree, don't eat it." Kopa laughs and interprets the meaning as being, "if something doesn't seem right, then it's probably wrong." Zazu agrees and tells Kopa to always check his facts.
German audio tapes
Fight for the Throne
Kopa joins his father in exile from the Pride Lands, though he later returns to support his father in the second fight for the throne.
Kopa befriends a hyena cub named Asante.
- In the original screenplay for the first film, the cub at the end is simply referred to as a "newborn cub," while the directors jokingly referred to it as "Fluffy" in the audio commentary featured in the Laserdisc and DVD releases of The Lion King. This goes back to how no one working on the film expected it to be successful. Therefore, no one planned ahead to any books or sequels.
- In an interview with Phil Weinstein, the storyboard director of The Lion King II: Simba's Pride, Weinstein admitted he had no knowledge of Kopa during production of the film. Since Weinstein was among the production crew of Simba's Pride, and assumingly all crew members had no knowledge of Kopa, this would explain why Kopa was never included into Simba's Pride.
- At the end of most storybooks based off The Lion King, it is stated that Rafiki lifts Simba and Nala's newborn son. In the audiobooks and books re-released after Simba's Pride, this has not changed. Although there is no name mentioned, it does specifically mention a son, not a daughter. The only exceptions to this are some Lion King storybooks were published four years before the release of Simba's Pride, in which the cub is specifically mentioned as a girl.
- The English Audio Description for the original version of The Lion King shown on Disney+, however, identifies Simba and Nala's cub as a newborn prince.
- This also applies to the novelization based on the 2019 remake where the cub is stated to be Simba and Nala's future king. Just like in most storybooks/audiobooks based on the original Lion King film, the cub's gender in the novelization is said to be male. This, however, was contradicted in the Pride Lands Pedia feature on digital releases, where the cub is identified as Kiara. Therefore, the gender of Simba and Nala's newborn cub in the 2019 remake is unclear.
- As Alex Simmons confirms here, Kopa was never truly affiliated with Disney, and was solely his creation with Disney's label.
- His name translates to "Heart" in Swahili.
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