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What kind of monkey is Rafiki from the Lion King?

Question:

What kind of monkey is Rafiki from the Lion King?

Rafiki and the Lion King:

One of the most colorful characters (literally) in Disney's 1994 The Lion King is Rafiki. A primate shaman and sage of the lion's pride, Rafiki is the character to guide the protagonist back to his true purpose.

Answer and Explanation:

Rafiki is modeled after the mandrill (Mandrillus sphinx), which is the largest species of monkey in the world. Rafiki is identifiable as a mandrill due to the distinctive colorations of his face, a hallmark of male members of the species. Of course, Rafiki does have some traits that are unique to him. For one, he has a baboon-like tail, while most mandrils do not. He also paints and has evidently mastered martial arts, traits not observed among mandrills in the wild (but which we'd love to see).

So, the question that remains is this: does Rafiki know what he is? In one famous like, Rafiki recites a nonsensical rhymes and tells the protagonist Simba it means ''you're a baboon, and I'm not''. At first glance, it seems Rafiki is just taunting Simba by reversing species. However, upon closer inspection what was nonsensical becomes sensical because Rafiki is a mandrill, not a baboon, and knowing this makes his jest a little more interesting.


Learn more about this topic:

Old World Monkeys: Definition, Types & Characteristics
Old World Monkeys: Definition, Types & Characteristics

from Kingdom Animalia: Study Guide & Review

Chapter 21 / Lesson 1
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