The circle of life

Israeli photographer’s real-life ‘Lion King’ photo grabs headlines

Dafna Ben Nun snaps monkey holding infant aloft in image that mirrors iconic scene from Disney movie where Simba is presented to the world

Stuart Winer is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

Screen capture from video of a scene from the 1996 Disney movie 'The Lion King.' ( YouTube)
Screen capture from video of a scene from the 1996 Disney movie 'The Lion King.' ( YouTube)

An Israeli photographer caught the moment when a baboon in Africa held up an infant animal in a striking mirror-image of one of the most famous scenes from the 1994 Disney hit movie “The Lion King.”

Dafna Ben Nun’s photograph, from a recent trip to Zimbabwe, was snapped up by several major British newspapers.

In the animated film, a baboon named Rafiki presents the newborn lion Simba to all the other animals by climbing to the top of a cliff and thrusting the cub above his head for all to see. The soundtrack for the scene was the song “Circle of Life” composed by Elton John.

Ben Nun took the picture during a visit to the open savanna to observe the behavior of local wildlife.

Posted by Dafna Ben Nun on Wednesday, October 17, 2018

One morning she was with a group watching animals at a watering hole, which included a group of monkeys, she told the Hadashot television news channel Sunday.

She heard some shouts from other people and turned just in time to photograph the primate holding up an infant — albeit one that had just been snatched from its actual mother.

Ben Nun said that due to the hierarchy of monkey social structure, such incidents are not uncommon among them, but the manner in which the infant was lifted up made it special.

Moment later the mother took her baby back again, she said.

Posted by Dafna Ben Nun on Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Ben Nun said sent the photo, along with others from her trip, to the UK-based Caters News Agency and from there it was picked up the Times, the Daily Mail, The Sun, The Mirror, among others.

Ben Nun’s passion and skill for photographing animals have in the past won her  a National Geographic contest. Another of her images was used in a National Geographic photo exhibit.

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