As Disney's The Lion King celebrates its 20th anniversary, we're rolling out the real deal in this slightly more accurate version of the classic tale, inspired by a three-year film shoot with a pride of lions. Now if only we could sing to you ...

"NAAAAAAAAAAANTA ingonyama bagithi baba..." 

All was quiet on the arid plains of Africa when, suddenly, hundreds of animals rushed out of hiding and in a lumbering stampede ran towards Pride Rock, the highest point on the Serengeti.

Elephants sounded, cheetahs bounded and flamingos soared in groups so large they darkened the sky. One thing and one thing alone would create such mayhem (and blatant disregard for the well-established food web): fire. 

Lion King_snap_2014_6_21

The animals narrowly escaped the (completely random) blaze that had swept its way across the plains, forcing them to abandon their habitats and head for higher ground. They arrived tired and frantic. The air was filled with screams from the frightened group … as members of the crowd calmed down and began to remember they liked to eat each other.

Just then, a baboon that looked suspiciously like a mandrill (but was in fact a baboon, so please don't argue) appeared on the rock face above. In his arms was a stolen lion cub, named Simba. The mandrill/baboon lifted the cub as if to throw the tiny predator over the cliff's edge, but as baboons are known to practice group decision-making, the solo male was unsure of what to do. In a bout of self-doubt and confusion, the manic monkey wandered off to find his missing troop. 

Lion King_rafiki_2014_6_21

Though the baboon had gone, the little lion was not out of the woods. Standing close behind the youngster was a male lion weighing a very average (but respectable) 190 kilograms (420 lbs). The towering cat stared intently at the little cub ... After all, baby killing (infanticide) is common when male lions come across cubs that aren't their own.

Lion king_eat_2014_6_21

Luckily for the cub, hiding deep within the rocks were five to seven adult female lions (typical of most prides in the area) willing to attack the male should he turn to violence. 

As it turned out, this adult male was a familiar one: Simba's father, Mufasa. With no danger about, the females were free to return to their daily 20-hour sleeping regimen.

The days passed by and Simba began to learn the ins and outs of lion life: the boundaries of the pride's territory, how to move quietly through the bush ... and how to kill a warthog by suffocation. It was his mother, not his father that played professor.

Lion king_mom_2014_6_21

Simba got his first taste of tragedy when his father was trampled by a herd of wildebeest (or at least we think it was him ... hard to tell after all the trampling). In a shocking twist, it's revealed that the lion leader was thrown into the stampede by a rival male during a fight to the death (which is pretty standard in the lion world).

Lion King_murder_2014_6_24

Dad's demise was bad news for Simba, who was left with no one to defend him (remember, rival males and orphaned cubs don't mix). The victorious male approached the frightened cub but, luckily, infanticide was not on the agenda, and Simba was banished instead (this didn't faze the young cub, as he would have been exiled from the pride once he hit sexual maturity anyhow).

The wandering lion roamed and rambled, searching for food and a safe place to sleep. All of the sudden, a cackle of hyenas emerged from the bush (yes, it's really called a cackle). To Simba's surprise, the hyenas were not scatterbrained scavengers prone to chewing on their own legs (take that, pop-culture misrepresentations), but highly social animals with brainpower to rival that of most primates. 

lion king_ed_2014_6_21

Simba was caught off guard by the high-ranking female hyena's seven-inch pseudopenis, but he quickly got over it ... you don't offend someone with that much testosterone and badass hunting skills.

Watching the hyenas hunt made Simba painfully aware of his own empty stomach. Suddenly, a rustle in the bush caught his attention. He slowly approached the sound, staying low to the ground just like his mother had taught him. A warthog and a meerkat stood at a nearby watering hole. The meerkat was small, but the warthog's sizeable tusks were sharp ... and without the help of a 'growing up montage' Simba was not quite big enough to tackle them. 

lion king_pumba_2014_6_21

The young lion formed a coalition with other males, which improved his hunting success. Until one day, the scent of a mate proved too enticing. Enter Nala, a lioness Simba knew as a cub. Since one dominant male fathers all of the cubs in any given pride, Mufasa would have fathered all of the cubs in Simba's ... making this alluring lioness, well, you get it. 

lion king_sister_2014_6_21

 And they lived happily ever after (maybe).