- “It is my sworn duty to keep the King informed of all the goings-on in the Pride Lands. No matter how bizarre they may be.”
- ―Zazu to Bupu
Zazu is a major character in Disney's 1994 animated feature film, The Lion King. He is an uptight, red-billed hornbill that served as King Mufasa's (and later Simba's) majordomo and royal advisor. Zazu is charged with upholding order within the Pride Lands, giving a daily Morning Report to the king, though he is rarely taken by others seriously due to his diminutive size and fragile temper.
- 1 Background
- 2 Appearances
- 3 The Lion King Musical
- 4 Disney Parks
- 5 Relationships
- 6 Gallery
- 7 Trivia
- 8 References
Zazu has two conflicting histories as to how he became the King's majordomo (though they are both found in novels) that aren't known to be completely canon.
In the book Friends in Need, Young Zazu is about to be cooked and eaten by the three young hyenas (which explains his cry of "Oh, no! Not the birdie boiler!" in the first movie) Shenzi, Banzai, and Ed, when an adolescent Mufasa comes along, frightens off the hyenas and saves him. Zazu is thankful and hopes that he can be of service to the future Lion King someday. Mufasa is doubtful of this. Zazu follows Mufasa around and watches over him. Mufasa quickly gets tired of this as Zazu disturbs his hunts and his private time with his betrothed Sarabi.
One day, Zazu notices some vultures hovering. He asks Mufasa if he wants him to fly over and see what's happening, but Mufasa is not concerned and lies down for a nap. Zazu flies over to where the vultures are anyway and sees that Sarabi has fallen into a pit and can't get out. Zazu flies back to tell Mufasa who leaps up and runs to the gorge. But Mufasa can't find a way to rescue Sarabi. Zazu finds a tree trunk that Mufasa drags over to the pit, allowing Sarabi to climb out. Mufasa realizes that the little hornbill is useful after all and appoints him as the royal advisor.
In How True, Zazu?, Zazu's mother, Zuzu, was a steward to Kopa's (the child of Simba and Nala in the non-canonical novel) great-grandfather Ahadi. When Zazu was young, Zuzu trained him to take her place when Mufasa's rule began, which she would as the reign of Mufasa begins, Zazu becoming the majordomo of the king.
Zazu's supervising animator was Ellen Woodbury and often moved around to catch the flow of Zazu's movements. In early concept art, Zazu is shown as a kingfisher rather than a hornbill, though the colors are shown to be similar (in other concepts while as a hornbill, Zazu is shown with black wings with red tips).
In an early drafts, Zazu rather than being sat on a rhinoceros, Simba and Nala ditch him at the watering hole. When Simba was going to ascend to the throne, Zazu was going to say "Your Majesty", though it was cut out as they wanted a quiet scene (though the line was included in the musical and live-action-film). Also, when he mentions Mufasa in Scar's presence, he was suppose to stroke Scar's ego, though he is interrupted by Shenzi, Banzai, and Ed, much to Scar's annoyance. He was also shown in the deleted scene, The Madness of King Scar, as Scar approached Nala to be his queen, before Zazu left, Zazu tells Nala to give a roar if she needs anything. Also in the deleted song, To Be King, Zazu gathers fanfare for Simba's first lesson, disappointing Mufasa (who did not want fanfare)
Timon's actor Nathan Lane first read for Zazu (and later went on to read for the hyenas though he was cast for Timon). When Rowan Atkinson was approached, he said he was reluctant to participate in voiceover and after being cast, he was taught the lyrics to It's a Small World as he didn't know them prior to the film.
As the king's majordomo, Zazu is knowledgeable, diplomatic, and stern. He takes his position as a royal advisor very seriously, and carries himself in a no-nonsense—and oftentimes, pompous—manner. Unfortunately, the demanding, and sometimes dangerous nature of his job has left Zazu with a considerable amount of anxiety and emotional instability; he is prone to falling into a panic when things go wrong, and he can be rather irritable and snappish and is often found as a nusiance by a young Simba and Nala, Scar and is thought as nosy by Fuli and the antelope leader Bupu.
- Shenzi: "Whoa, whoa. Wait, wait, wait. I know you. You're Mufasa's little stooge!"
- Zazu: "I, madam, am the king's majordomo."
- ―Shenzi to Zazu
Because of his fragile temper and high opinion of himself, Zazu is not taken very seriously by the other characters, specifically young Simba and Nala, who would often tease the majordomo as children and ditch him. Similarly, Scar saw Zazu as nothing more than a pest and repeatedly sought to torment the hornbill when given the chance such as placing him within his mouth for a few seconds and having Zazu imprisoned in a ribcage. Even Mufasa has had his share of fun in teasing Zazu, though they still respect each other. He is also found as a nosy bird by Fuli, the fastest in the Lion Guard, alongside Bupu, the antelope leader.
Nevertheless, Zazu is undoubtedly loyal to the king and has proven his usefulness on numerous occasions. As the king's "eyes and ears" (and is also mentioned to be the "keeper of secrets in the Pride Lands"), Zazu knows all and tells all, especially when trouble arises. If not for Zazu, Simba and Nala would have very well met their demise at the jaws of the hyenas, as it was he who had informed Mufasa of the danger before things could take a turn for the worse.
- Mufasa: "What am I going to do with him?"
- Zazu: "He'd make a very handsome throw rug!"
- ―Zazu joking around with Mufasa
Zazu is also shown to have a sense of humor, as he was able to make a joke about turning Scar into a throw rug (to which he adds that Mufasa can "take him out and beat him whenever he gets dirty"). He also has a quirky habit of sliding blatant puns into his morning reports such as the buzz from the bees and chimps going ape and giraffes remaining above it all, alongside also singing songs such as It's a Small World.
Zazu also shows shines of bravery, such as when a young Kion and Bunga escaped his clutches and came across Pua's Float, and are nearly eaten by Makuu, Zazu coming to the rescue, and because he knew the crocodile way and tradition, he gave his place, placing himself in Makuu's mouth, with his bravery saving the three. He is also shown saving Fuli from hyenas as she is cornered, nearly costing it his life as Zazu nearly falls in lava though Kion's Roar of the Elders saving him.
In the 2019 film, he is shown to enter Pride Rock to give Sarabi and Nala the morning report, though he was banished by Scar, with the penalty being eaten by the hyenas. Also in the film, he intervenes Scar finding Nala and saves her so she can escape Pride Rock to find hep for the Pride, with Scar trying to run him off, giving the young lioness a chance.
Zazu is a slender, adult, male hornbill with blue feathers (with a white outline) throughout, a white underbelly and a orange and golden beak. He has black pupils with yellow trimming around his nostrils and indigo feather tips with many feathers alongside bushy black eyebrows. In the 2019 film, Zazu is portrayed as mostly gray rather blue hornbill (though his wings and some tail features remain its blue and indigo color) with a white belly and having more slender orange legs (much like the original) yet he still has his orange beak and his larger bushy black eyebrows, making him resemble a real-life hornbill more so than the original film.
In the original film, Zazu is shown as the majordomo and royal advisor of King Mufasa, and is shown to have a close relationship him with, referring to him by name (which not many other characters do close or not) and joking around with him on personal matters such as Scar and what to do with him. He is also shown to by some (such as young Simba, young Nala and Scar) as an annoyance, nuisance and a bother only wanting to get rid of him or ditch him, though he is shown to be respected and trusted by others, such as Sarabi, trusting him with a young Simba and Nala taking them to the watering hole.
Zazu is first seen in the film, during the opening Circle of Life sequence and song, flying to Pride Rock alongside the Pride Animals, symbolizing that everyone has gathered to the presentation of King Mufasa and Queen Sarabi's newborn cub and heir to the throne of Pride Rock, Prince Simba, bowing at the king, where he receives a commanding nod and smile from the king as Rafiki, the wise shaman arrives to present the young cub to the Pride Lands.
He then appears in Scar's Lair, as Scar plays with his food, asking him if his mother ever taught him not to, the mentioning that a cross Mufasa is on his way, due to him not attending the ceremony of Simba, with Scar then nearly eating Zazu, Mufasa arriving before hand (being spit out, disgusting the hornbill), with Zazu being present during the conversation between the brothers, such as when Scar states he would never challenge Mufasa, Zazu asks why not, in which Scar tells him that he is the brains and Mufasa is the strength. After Scar leaves, Zazu jokingly states that they should make him a handsome throw rug as so when he gets dirty they could beat him, Mufasa laughing, as two continue to chatter among themselves, chuckling along.
- Simba: " Yeah! So you have to do what I tell you."
- Zazu: "Not yet I don't. And with an attitude like that, I'm afraid you're shaping up to be a pretty pathetic king indeed!"
- ―Zazu and Simba on Zazu when Simba is king
When Simba has grown into a cub, Zazu is often ridiculed by him, being the target in Simba's pouncing lessons while he gives Mufasa the morning report (in the Platinum edition he sings the song The Morning Report), though he is then told by his assistant Gopher that hyenas are in the Pride Lands, ending the chat with father and son, with Mufasa ordering Zazu to take Simba home, with Simba complaining, though Zazu tells him when he is king he will able to chase hyenas from dawn until dusk. He is then ordered to watch over Simba and Nala by Sarabi when Simba claims he wants to go to the waterhole with Nala. In fact, though unknown to him, Simba has earlier been lured by Scar to go to the Elephant Graveyard. where he set a trap While going to the watering hole, as Simba and Nala chat, he mentions to them that they ae betrothed, much to their dislike, with Simba mentioning that it won't happen as long as he is king with Zazu discouraging him since he won't allow it, leading Simba to song. While Simba and Nala sing I Just Can't Wait to Be King, Zazu is shown repeatly being abused by the Pride Animals, being rejected by Zebras, monkeys playing around with him alongside other things such as falling of a waterfall.
After the I Just Can't Wait to Be King sequence, Simba and Nala successfully lose Zazu (as a rhinoceros had sat on the bird, delaying him) and go to the graveyard. Zazu later catches up with them telling them that they need to leave, but they encounter the three hyenas Shenzi, Banzai, and Ed (which are Scar's trap), though they begin to escape. Zazu is inserted into the hyenas' "birdie boiler" geyser which rockets him up to the sky. He manages to find Mufasa and lead him to the cubs, just in time to save them from the hyenas, although it is also implied shortly after the hyenas flee that Mufasa, in addition to being upset with Simba for deliberately disobeying him by going to the Elephant Graveyard, is also upset at Zazu for failing to keep watch on the cubs, the bird seeming greatly and deeply embarrassed. Zazu is then ordered to take Nala home while Mufasa has a word with Simba, though it turns to fun with the relationship, with Mufasa telling Simba even after he is gone, he will always be with him, guiding him in life alongside the great kings of the past.
During the wildebeest stampede engineered by Scar and his minions (being Shenzi, Banzai, and Ed) to kill both his brother and nephew (though at that point it is unknown it him) Zazu is shown with Mufasa, confused on the "migration", though Scar approaches them, telling them of the stampede, with Zazu leading Mufasa to Simba, asking Zazu for help. As he watches the stampede, he wants to go back for help from the Pride as he is shown to be deeply worried, but is struck by Scar into a wall and rendered unconscious (leading to him not finding out that Scar killed Mufasa).
After Simba runs away (though believed to be dead), Zazu is seen comforting a heartbroken Sarabi when Scar informs the pride that both Mufasa and Simba have been killed in the stampede (Scar thinking that Shenzi, Banzai and Ed had killed Simba though they didn't, just giving him a warning if he comes back they shall kill him), he and the pride are then seen watching in horror as Scar allows the hyenas into the Pride Lands, which then led to the Pride Lands turning into waste and the Pride Animals leaving the Pride Lands, causing their too be little food and little water.
- “Oh... I would never have had to do this for Mufasa!”
- ―Zazu mentioning and insulting the differences between Scar and Mufasa
Zazu also appears years later, in a scene after Scar has assumed the kingship of the Pride Lands. In this scene, Zazu is imprisoned and is being forced to entertain Scar by singing songs like Nobody Knows the Troubles I've Seen and I've Got a Lovely Bunch of Coconuts (but not before briefly singing the lyrics of It's a Small World due to car complaining about his melancholy while singing Nobody Knows the Troubles I've Seen) afterwards stating that he would never to that for Mufasa, revealing that Scar banned the name of Mufasa, which leads Scar to scold the hornbill. When the hyenas come in to complain about the lack of food and water, Scar casually tells them to eat Zazu (although Scar also likely suggested to the Hyenas that they eat Zazu specifically as revenge for Zazu earlier mentioning Scar's brother in a favorable light compared to Scar under his breath), and he frantically insists that he'd be "so tough and gamey and eyugh!" although the Hyenas ultimately decide not to eat him, unknowingly agreeing with Zazu about Mufasa being better.
Later on, Simba returns to reclaim his throne. The lionesses, Timon, Pumbaa, and Rafiki battle the hyenas while Simba battles his uncle. Zazu pleads Timon to let him out of the ribcage he is imprisoned in, but Timon goes inside the ribcage instead as he is pursued by the hyenas. Pumbaa comes to the rescue and chases away the hyenas after Banzai inadvertently insults him. Zazu is freed along with Timon and joins the two in chasing them away and doing a victory yell.
Later after Scar’s death, Zazu is seen bowing at the newly king Simba, and watches him ascend the throne of Pride Rock, destined to him since years before. He is then shown during the final scene, where the Pride Lands have returned to its former glory, and is seen attending the presentation of Simba and Nala's newborn cub.
- “Yes, sire. Clearly, we are in his debt. And royal protocol demands that all debts be paid. Though in this case you might want to make an exception.”
- ―Zazu to Simba on Kovu
Zazu returns for the sequel, now voiced by Edward Hibbert, though he has a very minor role than in the original film, mostly functioning as a lookout and messenger and Hibbert is only credited as an Additional Voice.
He is first seen at Kiara's presentation, signaling that everyone has gathered, bowing at the king and Rafiki as the shaman presents Kiara. Afterwards, is next seen when Simba is lecturing Kiara before she goes out to play, and Zazu mentions the dangers of the Outsiders, calling them backstabbing and murderous, with Simba agreeing. He is later seen after Simba encounters and confronts Zira, a lioness who favored Scar after Kiara and Zira's son Kovu interacted with Kiara, he is seen returning to Pride Rock, along with the lionesses, Nala and Timon and Pumbaa while Simba stays back to lecture Kiara on the dangers of Zira's Clan and on the future.
Years later on Kiara's first solo hunt, Zazu is shown attending, seeming rather proud. He is then as she hunts, telling Simba that Kiara would be fine, though Simba notices the wildfire, and sends a shocked Zazu to find Kiara. When Zazu finds that Kiara is being rescued by Kovu, he reports the information back to Simba, seeming incredibly startled. After Kovu asks a skeptical Simba to join the pride, an equally skeptical Zazu notes that royal protocol demands that debts (such as the one Simba owes Kovu for rescuing Kiara) must be repaid, though Zazu would be quite happy to make an exception and even suggests that Simba should do so, making it clear he didn't trust Kovu any more than Simba did, afterwards calling him a "rifraith" when Simba reluctantly agrees to take in Kovu, with hostility, flying away.
- “Sire! The Outsiders are on the attack, heading this way! It's war!”
- ―Zazu to Simba on the Outsiders
Later on, after Simba was ambushed and Kovu was banished (though Kovu had left Zira's plot, though she continued to frame him) and just after he finds out that Timon and Pumbaa lost Kiara again, a worried Zazu flies into Pride Rock, informing Simba that the Outsiders are on their way and war is approaching, with Simba ordering Zazu to find Kiara as he will go to rally the lionesses for the battle.
At the end of the film, Zazu is seen attending the wedding of Kiara and Kovu and the union of the Pridelanders and the Outsiders, he is shown next to Timon and Pumbaa, who begin crying due to their love (and not not like) of moments similar, much to Zazu's dismay, sheltering himself with his wings from the tears.
- “Look sire, how they kneel before the royal son.”
- ―Zazu to Mufasa
- “Sire! The hyenas are after the children!”
- ―Zazu to Mufasa
Zazu's appearances are extremely brief in The Lion King 1½. He is first seen briefly as Timon and Pumbaa skim through the Lion King in the same scenes he is in during the original up until Timon and Pumbaa are introduced. At the presentation of Simba, talking to Mufasa mentioning the kindness of the Pride Animals to bow at the new king (though some bowed due to Pumbaa's gas as they were knocked unconscious). He is then seen going to rescue Simba from the hyenas with Mufasa at the Elephant Graveyard, telling him the details. Afterwards, he isn't seen again throughout the film. In the credits for this film, he is incorrectly listed as "Zasu".
Zazu appears as a recurring character in the animated series starring the duo of Timon and Pumbaa. He, much like Rafiki and the three hyenas: Shenzi, Banzai and Ed, has also had a few standalone episodes and much like the sequels, he is voiced by Edward Hibbert.
In the episode, Rumble in the Jungle, when Timon and Pumbaa are going to wrestle due to a fight, Zazu is shown as a judge, ringing a bell on everyround (which comedic slapstick affects added throughout the many rounds such as the hammer whacking Zazu).
In the episode, Zazu's Off-by-One Day, Zazu is shown arriving at his tree only to find it disgusting and then finds out that the Jungle Inspector is there already (as Zazu takes a census of all the animals), where he tells Zazu that he is fired as he missed on animal in the census and his job is given to Gopher. Zazu is then shown looking of what animal he missed. After looking and finding none, Rafiki reveals to him that he forgot to count himself and reveals it to the inspector who hires him back as Gopher assistant (as Zazu called the assistant's job useless).
In the episode, Zazu's Off Day Off, Zazu is shown relaxing on his day off, when Gopher shows up telling him about the flow of the river. Upon arriving they find out that Jumbo Jumbo, the most stubborn elephant is blocking, with Zazu throughout with tactics (such as digging and scaring him with a mouse disguise on Zazu) tries to move him, though the elephant than reveals that he is only sitting their because it is his day of, though he finds out only Zazu has the day off that day and moves. As Zazu goes to enjoy his day off, Gopher reveals that the next day was Jumbo Jumbo's day off.
In the episode, Once Upon a Timon, Zazu is shown flying to Rafiki's tree asking him why Timon is an outcast (with reputation at the shake) alongside him having a meeting with Simba. However, as Rafiki tells the story Zazu is more intrigued, procrasitnating his meeting with Simba. At the end when Zazu makes a joke saying Simba is "changing his diaper", he is shocked to see Simba next to him, though he allows Rafiki to finish the story.
Zazu makes a brief and minor appearance in The Lion Guard: Return of the Roar. He is seen when he finds Kion and his friends after Kiara told Simba on Kion's choices for the Lion Guard (with Kion being the only lion), with Zazu then being present during Simba's speech, leaving alongside the king after his speech ended, Simba disappointed in Kion.
In the animated Disney Junior series, Zazu is voiced by Jeff Bennett, and he is presented as a crucial part of Simba's life as King of the Pride Lands, serving as the lion king's advisor, mentor and majordomo. Though they share a healthy relationship, now that Simba is an adult, their interactions occasionally echo that displayed during Simba's childhood, with Zazu giving words of advice to the lion, only to be met with a response of childish annoyance. He is also shown to continue to give a daily morning report alongside also watching Simba's son Kion when he was younger (once saving him from crocodiles).
He is mentioned in the episode, The Rise of Makuu by Kiara to Kion and the Lion Guard, that he reported that the giraffes had moved into the baboon's forest, leading to the other Pride Animals to move all over the Pride Lands (which was caused by the new crocodile leader Makuu forcing the hippopotamuses to leave Big Springs).
He is seen in the episode, Can't Wait to be Queen, where he joins Simba and Nala to attend the funeral of Aminifu, the wise elephant leader, with Simba being worried on his speech, needing to speak in Elephantese, with Nala asking him to reassure Simba on his Duties as King, with that cheering Simba up, as he continues to teach Simba. When they arrive, Zazu is shown next to Simba as he gives his eulogy on his close friend Aminifu, though at the end of his eulogy, he accidently states "He had poop on him!", though much to everyone's relief, Ma Tembo and the other elephants laughed about it, laughing and remembering Aminifu. He is then seen at the end of the episode, returning with the King and Queen as they discuss the recent few days with Kion and Kiara.
- “Oh! Mbuni, it's ma-un-de-lay-e-oh, ya uhhi. Remember that for tonight!”
- ―Zazu to Mbuni on her singing
In the episode, The Kupatana Celebration he is first seen in the opening scene, where he as conductor is rehearsing the Kupatana Song with Basi, Mbuni, Muhanga, Twiga alongside an elephant lineup for the Kupatana Celebration, however Mbuni makes a mistake, with a disgusted Zazu correcting her. He is then seen at the Kupatana Celebration, where he is shown conducting the Kupatana Song, though afterwards comes a jackal invasion.
Zazu is mentioned in the episode, Bunga and the King. After Simba and Bunga reunite with Timon, Pumbaa, and the Lion Guard after escaping the Nandembo Caverns, with Bunga commenting that they should do it again, Simba responding that he will ask Zazu to check his schedule.
In the episode, Never Roar Again, Zazu flies into the Lair of the Lion Guard, commenting that while on Ono's lookout duty, he saw that a rockslide has blocked the giraffes from their watering hole, after noticing that Ono would have known if he was on duty, the hornbill sees the egrets featherless head, startling him. When the Lion Guard are going to help the giraffes, when Ono is hesitant, Zazu pushes Ono out, displeasing the egret.
In the episode, The Lost Gorillas, he is shown stuck in a beehive, with the Lion Guard coming to save him, with Bunga pulling him out, however before he can thank the honey badger, the bees begin to swarm him, though Bunga vends them away, Bunga giving the hornbill advise to go over the beehive, thanking him. After Fuli remarks on why Zazu was in such a hurry, he mentions that he was looking for the Guard, telling them that the pangolins have been spraying, stating it was a stinky situation. Upon Ono mentions that they only do that when they are threatened, the Guard goes to see the situation, leaving Zazu behind.
In the episode, The Savannah Summit, Zazu accompanies Simba and other leaders within the Pride Lands to a summit discussing ways of bettering the kingdom for all species (with throughout comes issues with the crocodile leader Makuu). In during which, he finds himself in the middle of an issue between a rhino and a baboon, with the rhino leader Mbeya sitting on him because he thought that Zazu said offensive things (though it is found out that it was the Baboon leader, resolving everything). Afterwards, Zazu ask Rafiki if him under Mbeya will be on the offical portrait, Rafiki laughing states, that it wouldn't be on the official one.
- “Ah, yes. That was a close one, indeed. But enough reminiscing. And on with the Morning Report!”
- ―Zazu on his experiences while he was captured by Scar
Zazu's largest role comes in the episode, The Morning Report. He is first seen coming to the Lion Guard, to find that the antelope leader Bupu has gotten stuck onto a tree branch, righting that down for the morning report, bringing much annoyance to Bupu. After he leaves, to find more information, Fuli makes a remark on Zazu enjoying to be into everyone's business, though Kion remarks a time where his bravery saved him and Bunga from crocodiles. In the episode, Scar (who had returned within fiery spirit) sends Janja,Chungu, Cheezi, his hyenas henchmen to capture Zazu (as he is considered the keeper of secrets in the Pride Lands). After being captured, he is told by Janja to ask him to reveal everything on Simba, which Zazu replies by saying much of little importance, with the Lion Guard coming to save him, with Zazu saving Fuli, nearly costing it his life, though he is saved. He returns to Pride Rock at night, where he delivers the morning report (though it was night) to Simba, mentioning that it was his first time being late for the report, though the Lion Guard reassures him that it wasn't his fault, going on with his morning report.
Zazu makes a brief cameo appearance in The Lion Guard: The Rise of Scar, he is seen flying around Simba and Nala as the King and Queen observe the Pride Lands. He also makes an appearance in Battle for the Pride Lands, while the Pridelanders train for the insuring battle against Scar's army, he is shown reporting to Simba explaining that Hadithi has arrived alongside the gorilla Shujaa and that the Lion Guard has gathered the rest, with Simba ordering Zazu to tell the Pridelanders to rest, Zazu flying to do so.
In Return to the Pride Lands Zazu makes a brief cameo at the end of the episode (and also the series) at the Tree of Life attending along with Simba, Nala, Kiara, Kovu among other Pridelanders the wedding/coronation of Kion and Rani.
Zazu appears in the 2019 remake of the animated film, voiced by John Oliver. This incarnation of Zazu has a plumage of darker feathers instead of blue feathers to make him resemble his real-life counterpart. However, he retains his whitish underparts.
Zazu is first seen flying to Pride Rock where he greets Mufasa at the beginning of the film where Simba is about to be presented to the animals. After the ceremony, Zazu tells Scar that Mufasa is coming to scold him because he is furious that Scar was not present during Simba's presentation. Scar tries to eat him, but Scar stops him as he and Mufasa argue over Scar's right in becoming the king, with Zazu becoming supportive with Mufasa. After Scar walks off, Zazu then tells a story about his cousin (in some instances in the film his brother) whom he thinks he's a woodpecker (Zazu's cousin/brother was not mentioned in the animated version).
Zazu later appears giving Mufasa and Simba a morning report. Giving the report, Mufasa teaches Simba how to pounce while Zazu flies around to know if there is news in the Pride Lands. Returning to Simba and Mufasa, Zazu gives the news that there are hyenas invading the Pride Lands. Mufasa plans to take care of the hyenas while telling Zazu to bring Simba back home to the other cubs, telling him to go play with them.
- “Zazu goes... or you don't!”
- ―Sarabi to Simba on going to the Watering Hole
Meanwhile, when Simba talks to his best friend Nala about taking her to the water hole, Sarabi then asks the two cubs can only go if they bring Zazu to protect them. Zazu then takes the two cubs to the location Simba requested where he tells them that the two will be married in the future. Simba and Nala, however, are disgusted when Zazu tells the two that they will be married. Simba explains that he does not have to marry Nala, but Zazu explains that a wedding is a tradition that cannot be broken. During the musical number I Just Can't Wait to Be King, Simba and Nala plan on losing Zazu in which the two successfully lose him where he is chased by weaverbirds instead of being crushed by a rhino in the animated version.
Meanwhile, at the Elephant Graveyard, Zazu finds the cubs exploring the area Simba shouldn't go to and protects the two from Shenzi. He then gives Shenzi a warning that if she attacks Simba, it can lead to a war between Mufasa and Scar; Shenzi tells her clan to attack the cubs but Mufasa arrives and saves Simba and Nala from the ambush. Soon as Mufasa takes Simba and Nala back to the Pride Lands, he tells Zazu to bring Nala back to his mother while Zazu tells Simba's father to go easy on him, reminding him what "he" was like as a cub.
At the gorge when Zazu sees the wildebeest stampede, Scar tells Zazu to alert the lions that Simba is in danger while he tells Mufasa to save Simba clinging on a dead tree in which Mufasa could not return to Pride Rock back in time as Scar leaves Mufasa to die in the stampede. Back at Pride Rock, Zazu and Rafiki listen to Scar's plan on becoming the new king from a distance instead of standing near the mourning lionesses listening to Scar telling them that Mufasa and Simba are both dead (though in reality Simba still lives, and wasn't killed after he sent Shenzi, Kamari and Azzizi to kill him)
Years later after Scar becomes king, one notable difference in this film was instead of being his pet while imprisoned in a rib-cage after Scar took reign, Scar banished him under penalty of being eaten by the hyenas. While banished, Zazu then notices the hyena clan is overhunting and destroying the Pride Lands where he sees the disaster Scar is doing, but he still snuck into Pride Rock to report to Sarabi, who he considered the true ruler much to Sarabi calling her daughter-in-law to get used to living in Pride Rock with Scar as the new king. Later that night, Zazu tells and scolds Nala to return to Pride Rock as she tries to escape to find help, before the hyenas eat her but Nala refuses to listen as she notices Scar approaching her. However, just as Scar and the hyenas prepare to bring Nala back to Pride Rock, Zazu also helped Nala escape by distracting Scar (which did not happen in the original animated version) so that Scar wouldn't keep forcing her to hunt for more food due to Scar's plan on overhunting to destroy the Pride Lands much to Sarabi's worry that she might lose her.
When Simba returns to Pride Rock, Zazu feels proud that Simba is back to his home. During the final battle against Scar, Zazu is also seen present in helping fight against the hyenas whereas, in the animated version, Zazu is still imprisoned until Pumbaa charges into the cage after the hyenas bother him. Also, in that scene, Rafiki helps save Zazu being attacked by the hyenas whereas, in the animated version, it was Simba.
After Scar's death, Zazu and everyone else in the Pride Lands is proud of Simba's victory against Scar, bowing to him as Simba ascends the throne of Pride Rock, destined to him years before. He is last seen at the end of the film where he attends the presentation of Simba and Nala's newborn cub, alongside the King and Queen.
In the Activity Center of the film, Zazu serves as the main guide for every activity with any time when the player needs help with. In Runaway Brain, Zazu makes two cameo appearances, once flying away from Mickey Mouse and secondly alongside Mickey with Julius.
In the series House of Mouse, Zazu appeared in Donald's Pumbaa Prank as lunch for Shenzi, Banzai, and Ed and nearly eaten, and Mickey's Magical Christmas: Snowed in at the House of Mouse, seen perched atop Rafiki's staff alongside other characters from the film.
He also appears in the Walt Disney Platinum Edition DVD of the original film, a computer-generated Zazu served as the host of disc one's main menu. Zazu also makes an appearance in It's a Small World: The Animated Series, having a brief and non-speaking came in the episode of the series, One Golden Sun.
In The Lion King musical, Zazu is a puppet controlled by an actor dressed in blue striped clothes and a bowler hat much like a stereotypical butler. Zazu's blue feathers have been replaced with white and the puppet is partially constructed from parachute silk with a slinky contained in the neck for ease in movement.
Zazu, like in the Platinum Edition of the film, sings the song The Morning Report before being pounced on by Simba. The musical version of the song is longer than its film counterpart (in the Spanish version of the musical and in recent performances starting in 2010, the Morning Report is deleted, leaving the song not included in the recently-performed regional albums).
In certain English productions of the show (and in the Spanish one), Zazu breaks the fourth wall to the audience. In the original Broadway production when, being blocked by curtains at the beginning of the I Just Can't-Wait to Be King number, shouts out "This didn't happen in the movie!" or "These look like shower curtains from Target!" (IKEA in some productions) and also, at the end of the number, the puppet is taken from his head and he cries out "Give me back my bird!" The Memphis Tour version changes the curtain reference to "Graceland"; the London production "IKEA", and the Hawaii production "Hilo Hattie". The Toronto production had him make references to Honest Ed's, the original business of the theater's owner, Ed Mirvish. Zazu also attacks his puppeteer, stating, "This is your fault!" In the Spanish production of the musical , he uses: "This didn't happen in the movie"; "This is your fault!" and when speaking with the conductor: "Stop this!".
Zazu takes part in the jungle-themed unit in Mickey's Soundsational Parade. At the Magic Kingdom, a former show called The Enchanted Tiki Room (Under New Management), starred Zazu and Iago from Aladdin, as audio-animatronics. In Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom, he is seen in a spell card with Rafiki called Rafiki's Wisdom Stick.
Also in the park, Zazu makes a cameo in the attraction Mickey's PhilharMagic during Simba's Just Can't Wait to Be King sequence. His likeness is also featured Disney's Art of Animation Resort in Walt Disney World, in The Lion King section.
Zazu is also featured in The Legend of the Lion King stage show in Disneyland Paris, where he is shown reluctantly assisting Timon and Pumbaa in creating a reenactment of the film in honor of Simba. He also appeared in the former Disneyland Paris parade Disney's Once Upon a Dream Parade, as part of the jungle-themed float's décor. A statue of Zazu can also be seen in the Adventureland area in the jungle section, next to a statue of Kaa.
In the Hong Kong Disneyland park, Zazu is featured in the Flights of Fantasy Parade In Shanghai Disneyland, Zazu also appears during the performance of I Just Can't Wait to Be King in the Ignite the Dream fireworks show.
- Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge's first Abyssinian ground hornbill chick is named after Zazu and dubbed his cousin.
- Zazu has shown the ability to hover in mid-air, a very difficult flying ability. The only real-life birds capable of this are the hummingbird and certain birds-of-prey like the kestrel, the latter doing so to pinpoint prey; birds-of-prey also cannot do so indefinitely.
- Zazu is voiced by Rowan Atkinson, an already well-established British actor and comedian, in The Lion King. Whilst admonishing Scar for not attending Simba's presentation ceremony, Zazu states that the King is "as mad a hippo with a hernia". This is a possible nod to Blackadder, a long-running British historical comedy series in which Atkinson played the leading role, and who has a strong tendency to use simile in this manner when being sarcastic. However, it is unlikely that many younger viewers, especially outside the UK, would realize this.
- Zazu is mentioned that he can speak gorilla, elephant, chimpanzee, and several dialects of bushbuck.
- Zazu's name means movement in Hebrew