Ten Things You May Not Know About Timon and Pumbaa
1. The comic duo made their debut in the 1994 film The Lion King and have since gone on to star in two additional direct-to-video films as well as their very own TV series.
2. They are also the stars of their very own Walt Disney World attraction: The Circle of Life film in the Land Pavilion.
3. Did you know that Timon and Pumbaa have last names? Something African perhaps? You might think so, but their last names are actually Berkowitz and Smith!
4. Unlike real meerkats, Timon is able to walk about on his hind legs. Real meerkats walk on all fours, although they do occasionally stand on their hind legs to survey their surroundings.
5. Timon was voiced by Nathan Lane while Pumbaa was performed by Ernie Sabella. Lane and Sabella were originally cast as the hyenas Banzai and Shenzi, played by Cheech Marin and Whoopi Goldberg in the film. The crew loved their performances and thought that the duo would be even better as Timon and Pumbaa. The two would later costar in the film MouseHunt, with Sabella in a minor supporting role.
6. “Pumbaa” means ignorant, lazy, or careless in Swahili. It’s not very flattering, but unfortunately it’s an apt description.
7. What about Timon? As it turns out, his is one of the few characters from the film whose name has no meaning in Swahili. It’s actually a Greek name, taken to mean “he who respects.”
8. Timon and Pumbaa are featured in the “Wild About Safety” program that shows Guests how to stay safe and enjoy their Walt Disney World visits. Predictably, Pumbaa is usually shown as the one who is getting into trouble, whether it’s for not stowing his valuables or for not standing behind the yellow line.
9. Timon and Pumbaa’s signature song, “Hakuna Matata,” is named for a Swahili phrase that means, you guessed it, “no worries.” In the film MouseHunt, Ernie Smuntz (Nathan Lane) bows to a sheik who is ready to bid for his home and greets him with the words, (wait for it!) “Hakuna matata!”
10. Despite Pumbaa’s embarrassing claim to fame as being the first Disney character to be, ahem, excessively gassy, it’s in fact the meerkat who tends to be on the stinky side in real life. Meerkats don’t make good pets because they will scent mark the home, as well as the humans inside! Now who’s the one who’s “down hearted”?