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.