The Lion King has dominated theaters since its release on July 19, in part thanks to its stunning CGI animation. 

Viewers have been transfixed by the incredible realism of the animals and scenery. Director Jon Favreau recently revealed that one shot out of the 1,490 in the film was actually a live-action shot captured while the production team was in Africa studying animals.

This one opening shot set the tone for the rest of the movie, and made audiences believe that the rest of what they were seeing was actually real, too. The animators had a little help in creating the hyperrealistic lion cub Simba from a real-life lion cub Bahati from the Dallas Zoo. The precious baby lion was the inspiration for many of Simba's facial expressions and physical actions and movements. 

Favreau started off "The Circle of Life" theme song at the very beginning of the movie with this actual real-life shot of the African Sahara. 

The director revealed in his Instagram caption, "This is the only real shot in #TheLionKing. There are 1490 rendered shots created by animators and CG artists. I slipped in one single shot that we actually photographed in Africa to see if anyone would notice. It is the first shot of the movie that begins The Circle of Life."

By placing the one real image at the beginning of the movie, the film makes viewers believe that the rest of what they see is just as realistic. 

Viewers were doing double-takes in theaters trying to determine which scenes were real or fake. The opening image was so striking because viewers were expecting something clearly animated and were shocked that it could look so realistic, when secretly it was actually real. The rest of "The Circle of Life" number was filled with hyperrealistic animal shots that looked like something straight out of a nature documentary, and not an animated animal movie musical. 

The animators studied real-life animals, like this adorable baby lion from the Dallas Zoo, to get the movements and facial features exactly right. 

The zoo shared on its Instagram account that its lion cub Bahati was used as the inspiration for Simba's animation. 

"BAHATI OR SIMBA?: The world's most famous lion cub may have gotten some of his moves from our very own Bahati! When Bahati was just a month old, we provided Disney with video of her movements for their animation team to use for motion and behavior reference when designing Simba in The Lion King. From walking on wobbly new legs, to licking milk droplets off of her face, we captured every moment, no matter how small. So now you MUST go see Disney's The Lion King (opening today!), and let us know if you see any bit of baby Bahati in Simba."

Good Morning America dove deep into a behind-the-scenes look at creating the stunning visuals in the film. 

GMA host Robin Roberts interviewed the cast of the film, including Beyoncé, about the music, vocals, and visuals that bring the movie together. Donald Glover shared that the "Circle of Life" theme song means so much more to him now that he's a father. 

"I think the 'Circle of Life,' as a child you hear that and think, Oh, that's a good song, and you understand it. But, as a father, I was holding my son the other day and I had my glasses on and I thought, I look just like my dad. It was just this moment of, oh, this just keeps going. I think now, with this movie, you see the continual nature of this life," Glover said. 

The star-studded cast also played a pivotal role in bringing the characters to life, literally. 

The hyperrealism made talking animals almost disconcerting and has been the biggest critique of the film. Because the animals look so real, it's confusing at first to see them speak — the voices almost don't make sense. However, the iconic music and vocals by musical geniuses like Beyoncé and Donald Glover make up for it in the film's soundtrack and joint album, Lion King: The Gift. 

The stunning visuals were without a doubt the highlight of the movie, and that was thanks in part to Bahati. 

One fan commented on the Dallas Zoo's tweet, "Tell #Bahati that she did a fabulous job. We just saw the movie and it was beautiful and so realistic!!! #GoodJobBahati #thelionking." The newborn lion cub roars and moves its tiny head in the most adorable way. It's no doubt why the creators chose this specific African cat as their inspiration. 

These poses are exactly like Simba's in the movie and are even cuter knowing that they're real.

The Zoo shared a few images of Bahati on National Kitten Day, and she looks just like Simba. These two photos are near-exact replicas of the lead lion as a young cub. The second photo captioned, "And one more, just because she looks so majestic! #NationalKittenDay" looks like it could have come straight out of the movie.