As a cub, Kopa often listened to past stories about his family and friends. His curiosity once led him into trouble, as he strayed into the desert in search of his "family tree," which he believed to be a physical plant. With the help of three vultures called the Buzzard Boyz, Kopa was found by his parents, who saved him from the vultures' clutches.
Kopa famously befriended a female hyena named Asante, which emboldened the hyenas of the Outlands to stray into the Pride Lands. One such hyena named Fisi devised a plot to overthrow Simba by using Kesho the cheetah to force Simba from the throne. The plan worked, and Kopa joined his father in exile to the jungle. However, the two later returned to the Pride Lands with the help of an elephant named Kia, and Simba was reinstated as king and Kopa as crown prince.
Kopa is first seen playing with his hyrax friend Pimbi, who teases him for his poor pounce. Kopa boasts that he will someday be the king of the Pride Lands like his father before him. He then bids the hyrax a hasty goodbye, as he is planning to meet Simba at Pride Rock for a trip to the summit.
Once at Pride Rock, Kopa meets his mother, who greets her son and asks him about his play date with Pimbi. No sooner has Kopa talked to his mother when Simba appears with Rafiki and Zazu, and Nala explains that there's been another crisis at the Water Hole. Kopa bounds up to his father, proclaiming that he's ready to go, but Simba gently insists that he must attend to the problem at the water hole. Disappointed, Kopa reminds Simba that he had promised to take him to the top of Pride Rock, but Nala interjects, kindly reminding her son that Simba has kingly duties. Unexpectedly, Rafiki takes Kopa's side and tells the royal family a story about Mufasa and Scar when they were cubs.
After hearing the story, Kopa expresses awe for his ancestors, Ahadi and Mufasa, and distaste for his great-uncle, Scar. Simba benefits from the story as well, realizing that broken promises have torn families apart just as Ahadi's broken promise tore his family apart. Summoning Kopa, he agrees to take the cub and Nala to the summit of Pride Rock, as family is important and much has gone into the making of the Pride Lands. This decision prompts much joy from Kopa, whose mood instantly perks.
At the onset of the story, Kopa is showing off to his monkey friends, Jambo and Kwaheri, but he trips on a broken tree branch, prompting much laughter from the monkeys. Embarrassed, Kopa orders them to stop, and they honor his request, instead suggesting a game of "I-dare-you."
Kopa and Kwaheri agree to the game, and Kopa makes the first dare, challenging Jambo to swing from a short acacia tree to a tall one. Jambo easily completes the dare, and Kwaheri takes his turn, telling Kopa to jump from a high, pointed rock. Puffing himself up for his friends, Kopa leaps from the rock, only to be halted in his game by Zazu, who warns the cub to stay away from the gorge, where waters are unusually high. With his warning given, the hornbill flies away, and the monkeys return, daring Kopa to catch them.
Accepting the challenge, Kopa gives chase but comes to an abrupt halt at the edge of the gorge. The monkeys easily swing across and taunt Kopa from the opposite bank of the river, pressing him to cross the chasm. Overwhelmed, the cub turns tail and flees, hiding himself in a burrow until he hears a strange noise. Mustering his courage, the young lion challenges the strange animal, who turns out to be Rafiki. When the baboon chides Kopa for being recklessly brave, the cub argues that he wants to be brave like his parents. Rafiki then tells Kopa that even Simba and Nala feel afraid sometimes and instructs the cub to ask his mother about Ni.
Too curious to turn the baboon down, Kopa charges back to Pride Rock and begs his mother to tell the story. Nala complies, and after the story, Kopa asks her if she ever saw Ni again, to which she admits that she hadn't but that she's never forgotten him. Shortly after the story, Zazu shows up and tells Kopa that his monkey friends are looking for him.
Kopa finds Jambo and Kwaheri at the terrace, where the monkeys try to dare him to do fancy tricks in the trees. Instead of caving to their requests, Kopa tells them that they know he can't do what they can do. The monkeys continue to pressure him until the cub turns away. Confused, they call out after him, and Kopa turns, proclaiming that a lion will never learn to roar if he listens to the chattering of monkeys.
When a crisis comes up at the water hole between the antelope and a hippo named Kiboko, Kopa tries to follow his father to the scene of the fray. As he leaves, Nala calls out after him, trying to convince him to hunt, but Kopa reacts with disgust, calling it "girl stuff." Nala laughingly sends him on his way.
Before reaching the water hole, Kopa stops to talk to other members of his pride, including Babu, Boga, Leo, Mega, Ngawa, and Sabini. The cub tries to tell his friends about the fight between the antelope and Kiboko, but Sabini ignores him, mentioning Simba's family tree to Leo. Not fully understanding the older lions, Kopa asks about his family tree, and the others laugh at him, amused at his naivety. Kopa's temper flares as the others make fun of him, and he demands to know where his family tree is. Recognizing the cub's frustration, Mega tells Kopa to ask his father about their family tree, and the young cub scurries off to talk with Simba.
Once at the water hole, Kopa attempts to get his father's attention, but Simba is distracted by the pestering remarks of the antelope. Unable to talk to his son in the middle of the crisis, Simba orders Kopa away. Hurt at his father's rejection, Kopa resolves to find his family tree by himself.
The cub begins to search avidly for his family tree, avoiding the perimeters of the Pride Lands, as his father had warned him about straying away from their territory. However, when Kopa spots a lizard, he chases it hungrily into the desert, where he soon loses his way among the blistering heat and scruffy bushes. Too frightened to go any farther, he settles himself into the sand, where he is soon found by Chewa and Choyo, two conniving vultures. While examining the cub, they realize that he is the prince of the Pride Lands. Seizing the opportunity to weasel something out of Simba, they hold him for ransom so that Simba will be forced to send them prey in exchange for his son's life. Sure enough, Simba and Nala are frantically looking for Kopa back home, worried about his long absence.
With no option of escape, Kopa is forced into a high nest, where the vultures hold him ransom until they can contact his parents. Starved and scared, the cub is surrounded by three friendlier vultures, The Buzzard Boyz, who sing to him as he listens politely from the nest. Though Kopa enjoys the music, the three vultures admit that their flock does not appreciate their voices. They then inform Kopa that Chewa plans to hold the cub ransom until Simba sends food their way. Not liking this turn in the conversation, Kopa asks for another song, and the vultures happily comply. He then complains that he can't hear them over the growling of his stomach, and the vultures happily fly off to bring him back food.
When the vultures return with food for Kopa, the cub is shocked to hear that the flock wants to exchange his life for that of animals in the Pride Lands. The Buzzard Boyz assure him that he and his future subjects will be safe, for they have a plan. Without explaining it to Kopa, they fly off to talk to Simba. Once in the Pride Lands, they use riddles and songs to inform the king and queen where their son is.
While waiting for the vultures, Kopa sits in his high nest. Soon enough, he sees a great crowd of animals trooping through the desert, among them Rafiki and Zazu. At first, the vultures are elated, but then Simba and Nala step out from among the ranks, demanding the return of their son. The vultures are forced to comply, and Rafiki climbs up Kopa's tree to fetch the cub.
Once reunited with his parents, Kopa is apologized to by Simba, who explains what a family tree really is. He tells the cub that their entire history has been recorded for them to see, dating back to their great-great-great-grandparents. As the Buzzard Boyz look on, the family and their subjects return home.
|“||Kopa: No! And I don't feel like talking about it. That's all.|
Timon: Boy, oh, boy. Our little buddy is not in a good mood.
Pumbaa: Well, sometimes talking about a problem helps.
Kopa: Just leave me alone!
As Timon and Pumbaa are preparing to take a nap, they are interrupted by Kopa, who accidentally crashes into them with Nala following close behind. The lioness expresses worry for her son, but Kopa answers angrily, refusing to say why he's so upset. Seeing the cub in a bad mood, Timon suggests that they cheer him up. Catching on, Nala agrees and bids her son goodbye.
With Nala gone, Timon and Pumbaa ask Kopa what's troubling him, and the cub admits that his best friend Afua has been acting hurtful lately. Since befriending Beba, a cheetah cub, Afua has been ignoring Kopa in favor of his new friend, comparing the cub to the faster and more talented cheetah cub. Kopa's words inspire Timon and Pumbaa, who tell Kopa that he may just be mad at Afua because he's jealous of Beba. Angry, Kopa tries to turn away, but the duo tell him the story of Joka, a giant python who tried to split apart Timon, Pumbaa, and Simba's friendship through lies and deceit.
When the story comes to an end, Kopa asks if the three ever made up, to which Timon explains that, though it took some convincing on his part, the friends did make up. With the story still fresh in his mind, Kopa admits that he should go talk to Afua, since the cub may not mean any harm in comparing Kopa to Beba. Both Timon and Pumbaa encourage Kopa to do this, and the young prince scampers off to make up with his friend.
|“||Kopa: What do you want to play, Zazu?|
Zazu: How about dead? We both lie down and don't say a word.
Kopa: I'd rather play good guys and bad guys. I'll be the bad guy, and I'm chasing the good guy.
Kopa: Here I come, good guy. Ready or not.
Zazu: No! No! Oh, I hate babysitting! Help!
While Simba is trying to take a nap, Kopa interrupts him, excitedly inviting his father to wrestle. Amused, Simba begins to play with the cub, but Rafiki and Zazu interject, telling Simba that there are less acacia trees than usual around the savanna. Overhearing this, Kopa asks where all the trees have gone, and Rafiki explains that most have been killed by elephants or else disease and neglect. Kopa turns to his father and encourages him to tell the elephants to stop hurting the trees, and Simba begrudgingly sets about correcting this wrong.
Later that day, Nala is talking to Zazu when Kopa makes an unexpected appearance, pouncing on his father's majordomo. After making her son apologize, Nala asks Zazu to watch Kopa while she goes to talk with Simba. Though reluctant, Zazu agrees, and Kopa starts up a game of good guys and bad guys. Desperately, Zazu tries to change the cub's mind, but Kopa sneakily stalks Zazu, who begins to yell for help.
|“||Kopa: I love stories. Is there a big ugly beast with three horns and sharp teeth in it?|
Zazu: As a matter of fact, there is, sort of.
Kopa: I'm all ears.
When Zazu is babysitting Kopa for Simba and Nala, he is constantly pestered by the young cub, who asks all sorts of scientific questions, such as why the sky is blue. Though patient, Zazu is easily tired out by the curious cub. In the middle of the questioning, Kopa asks Zazu why he flies so far across the Pride Lands, and the hornbill explains that he needs to see everything so he can report back to Simba.
Interest piqued, Kopa asks why Zazu needs to report to Simba at all, and Zazu explains that it's important for the king to understand what's going on in the Pride Lands. Kopa again asks why, prompting a patient sigh from Zazu, who decides to end the questions by telling the cub a story. Suddenly eager, Kopa asks if the story has anything to do with a monster, to which Zazu says yes. Kopa uses a common phrase of his mother's, "I'm all ears," feeling very grown-up.
Zazu begins the story by explaining how news-spreading has been a Pride Lands tradition. He goes on to retell the story of Mufasa and Simba, and Kopa, who's heard the story many times, fills in the end for Zazu, explaining how Scar was defeated and Simba became the next Lion King. Zazu proceeds to explain how he became majordomo, taking over for his mother Zuzu, who taught him "perhaps too well." A confused Kopa asks for clarification, and Zazu explains that he made the mistake of reporting everything he saw to Mufasa instead of narrowing things down to the important facts. He explains to Kopa that every choice has a consequence, rendering everything one does or says important in the long run.
Zazu ties this principle back to his story, admitting that he'd wanted to prevent bad things from happening, so he'd poked his beak into everyone's business, trying to make sure that everyone was safe and sound. He goes on to tell stories about his own past mistakes and how his reporting to Mufasa often led to unnecessary confrontations. Kopa asks how he'd prevented this from happening again, and Zazu explains that he learned to check into situations before reporting them to Mufasa. Since his first summer as Mufasa's steward, he has learned much in the ways of reporting.
After telling Kopa the story of his first summer as a steward, Zazu explains how the animals who had deceived him learned to help out around the Pride Lands, deciphering fact from fiction. Understanding Zazu's principle, Kopa quotes Rafiki, saying, "When the mouth is bigger than the brain, the feet won't stay on the path." Zazu then quotes Rafiki himself, replying, "If the coconut bounces too high when it falls from the tree, don't eat it." This prompts a laugh from Kopa, who interprets the phrase to mean that if something doesn't seem right, then it's probably wrong. Zazu agrees and tells Kopa to always check his facts.
When a disobedient Kopa wanders into the Elephant Graveyard, he sees Asante, a young hyena cub, struggling to escape a vicious constrictor snake. The front half of Asante's body is stuck under the ground, making it impossible for her to defend herself. As the snake starts to strangle her, she cries out for help. Mustering his courage, Kopa jumps into the fray and engages the snake in a fight. After flipping the snake away, Kopa gives Asante the chance to wriggle out of the hole.
Upon seeing each other face-to-face, the two recognize each other as lifelong enemies. Despite this, Kopa introduces himself to the hyena, and Asante gives him her name as well. She then thanks him for saving her from the snake. Kopa tells her that snakes don't scare him, and Asante admits that poisonous snakes scare her. She explains to Kopa that she had been hunting for snake eggs when the constrictor caught her in the act. Kopa, impressed with Asante's knowledge, claims to understand all that she's talking about. Asante asks Kopa if he lives in the Pride Lands, and the cub confirms this. Asante admits that her kind is not allowed to go there, since hyenas and lions are enemies. Despite this, she again thanks Kopa for saving her life and then admits that she must go. Kopa says goodbye, and the two part ways.
After returning home, Kopa thinks much about his new friend. He even admits his troubles to his mother, who tries to explain to her son that hyenas and lions are enemies, though she also compliments him for putting aside their differences in order to save Asante.
Many days later, Kopa is on a walk across the savanna when he runs into Asante again. The hyena invites him to play, and the lion cub eagerly accepts. Asante suggests they throw bones, but Kopa is disgusted. Seeing her friend cringe, Asante laughs and tells him that she'd just been joking. She then suggests they hunt crickets. As the two play together, Kopa spots a line of ants crawling across the ground. He points them out to Asante and tells her to sit and wait. The hyena is confused but obediently sits down and waits.
Presently, a gecko approaches and eats up the line of ants. Kopa explains to his friend that no one can change the course of nature. Snakes and geckos can never be friends, and neither can geckos and ants. At Kopa's words, Asante takes the gecko and shoves him aside. She then proclaims to Kopa that she has just changed the course of nature, for she is now a friend of the ants. Kopa asks if it's possible for hyenas and lions to be friends, and Asante points out that they are friends. The two then run off together, happily playing among the savanna grass.
Kopa and Asante meet each other more often after this. They play together and tell each other their secrets. Kopa tells his friend about a tree which gives shade all day long, and Asante tells Kopa about a den with a great echo. Despite their growing friendship, neither dares introduce the other to his or her family.
One day, Asante tries to convince Kopa to come to the "Shadowland" with her, but Kopa is hesitant to disobey his parents again. Asante finally convinces him to come by telling him that there is a great river there which they can throw stones into. Upon entering the unknown land, Kopa forgets his fears and trots happily alongside his hyena friend. No sooner are they in Asante's land when they spot a dark cloud steadily approaching them. At first, Kopa thinks it's a swarm of locusts, but Asante instantly knows the true identity of the cloud.
She exclaims to Kopa that a storm is coming. The cub is confused, but Asante points out to him that she can hear thunder. Kopa has never seen a storm before in his life, but Asante knows the dangers of rain and lightning. As the storm begins to bear down on the cubs, Asante yells at Kopa to run. Eventually, the lion gives in and races after his panicked friend. The weather changes drastically, and the storm moves in overhead. As rain begins to pelt the cubs from all directions, the river swells and starts to grow bigger and bigger. Soon, the ground gives way, and Kopa falls into the river. The lion cub yells to Asante for help, but the young hyena runs off into the rain without him.
Unbeknown to Kopa, Asante hastens to her friend, an old crocodile named Kroko, and begs him to save Kopa's life. After hearing her story, Kroko agrees to help the young lion cub, whom he safely delivers to shore, where Asante rushes to his side, begging him to wake up. Kopa is relieved to see Asante still with him, and the hyena explains to him that she had merely gone for help. Kopa thanks her, and Asante accepts his gratitude. She then asks him if he can move all right. Kopa admits that he is exhausted, and Asante resolves to guide him home.
Together, the hyena and the lion journey across the savanna until they've nearly reached Pride Rock. It's been a long time since a hyena was brave enough to go so far, and even Asante feels uncomfortable. Kopa is desperate for her to meet his parents, for he knows that if he doesn't destroy the old hostility today, there won't be another chance. Despite his enthusiasm, Asante stops before they can reach the pride and tells Kopa that they are even, as both have saved the other's life at some point. She then tells him that they don't belong together, which is why they must part ways.
Kopa begrudgingly admits to this and dejectedly makes his way back toward Pride Rock. As he's walking, Asante suddenly catches up to him and tells him that she's changed her mind. She then asks him if he still wants her to meet his parents, and Kopa eagerly agrees. Asante admits that she is a bit afraid of them and asks Kopa if they really are friends. Kopa assures her that they are and then challenges her to a race. Asante teases him about his slowness, and the two friends take off across the savanna.
When Kopa is still a young cub, he asks his father why the king of Pride Rock must always be a lion. Though at first flustered, Simba eventually reassures his son that the king of Pride Rock must be a lion because it has always been this way, with generations of kings spanning the history of the Pride Lands. Kopa remains unconvinced, but Simba urges him to return to Pride Rock, where Nala is surely awaiting their return.
Unbeknownst to the two, a hyena named Fisi watches from the shadows, intrigued by the young cub's questions. He schemes to put Kesho the cheetah on the throne, and through tricking and poisoning Simba while he fights Kesho, the hyena succeeds. Though burdened by his defeat, Simba reacts honorably and exiles himself to the jungle despite his mate's protests. This time, he is not alone, for Kopa accompanies him.
In the years that follow Simba's exile, the former king and his son yearn to return to their home while Kesho is brutally controlled by the hyenas, who don't let him make any decisions for himself. Under Kesho's rule, the hyenas take over the Pride Lands, leaving carrion strewn about the lands that infects the few animals left. The Pride Landers become so desperate that Nala journeys to find her mate in the jungle.
Nala first stumbles upon Kopa, who takes her to Simba's den. Once facing Simba, the lioness begs her mate to return to the Pride Lands, but the former king refuses to journey home. Unable to keep quiet, Kopa begs his father to return, but Simba remains firm in his decision to stay. When the argument becomes hopeless, Kopa labors through the jungle to find Kia, a magnificent elephant whom he convinces to defeat Kesho by reminding the elephant that his jungle will soon be overrun with Pride Lander refugees.
Though the hyenas are outraged at Kia's intrusion, they have no choice but to let the elephant pass. Once he reaches Pride Rock, Kia dangles Kesho over the precipice and forces him to admit to his entire congregation of followers that he had cheated Simba. Outraged, the Pride Landers demand his exile, and Simba returns to the Pride Lands amid happy cheers of return. Kia returns quietly to the jungle, and the hyenas flee the lands, leaving Simba and his family to return the Pride Lands to their former glory.
Almost identical to his father when he was a cub, Kopa is small and slight, though broad and compact for a cub his age. His shoulders are slight, but as far as build goes, he is in good shape, being slim and moderately well-muscled. Facially, his features are more square, mirroring those of his grandfather, Mufasa.
Like Simba, Kopa possesses a rich golden pelt broken only by patches of lighter fur on his muzzle, paws, and underbelly, though Kopa's fur is a shade lighter than his father's. This trait most likely comes from Nala, whose tawny color mixed with Simba's gold to result in a rich yellow. Both cubs have or had a hair tuft, but Kopa's tuft is much bushier and reddish-brown in color. His tail tuft matches his head tuft in color, being somewhat bushier than his father's, and his eye rims follow the usual pattern, with the top shade being darker than his main pelt, while the bottom shade is lighter. From Simba, he inherited dark ear rims and orange eyes.
Kopa shares many similarities with his parents, even as a cub. From his father, he inherited a compact build as well as dark ear rims and orange eyes. Nala, though less prevalent in her son, bestowed on him her tawny shades, giving him a slightly paler pelt than his father. Both parents lent him features common among Pride Landers, such as pink noses and colored paws.
Personality and traits
|“||Rafiki: What makes you think I was looking for you? Why should I bother with a cub who's foolish enough to crawl into a hyena's den?|
Kopa: Hyena's den! I'm not afraid of hyenas.
Rafiki: Brave animals know when to be afraid.
Kopa: Well, I don't want to be afraid ever! I want to jump across gorges and take every dare. I want to be brave all the time like my father and mother.
Much like his father Simba, Kopa is a rambunctious cub with a good sense of adventure. His curiosity never seems to fail him, leading him into many a situation around the Pride Lands, though his naivety often gets him into trouble. Even for a young cub, Kopa is considerably innocent, not always understanding even simple figures of speech, such as "family trees." Combined with his curiosity, his limited understanding of the world prompts him into action, leading him into trouble more often than not.
Despite his innocence, Kopa thinks much of himself, boasting about his title as the future king of the Pride Lands. Like his father, he enjoys the prospect of becoming king and is not afraid to show off to his friends. Kopa's puffed-up pride is one downside of his, exposing his insecure side and stubborn attachment to looking strong. Even when scared, Kopa concerns himself with looking brave and capable, as seen when he is unwilling to turn down a foolish dare. His insecurity is noted by Rafiki, who chides Kopa for letting his sense cave to pride.
Kopa's pride is in part due to his idol, Simba. Throughout the book series, Kopa makes it clear that he looks up to and adores his father, always wanting to be around him and boasting that he will one day grow up to be just like him. When Simba breaks a promise to Kopa, the cub is deeply hurt, taking the kingly decision as a deep personal blow. His attachment to his father mirrors Simba's relationship with Mufasa, rendering the two very close and almost inseparable.
In the audio books, Kopa retains his innocent and playful nature, though he becomes a bit more mature, branching out to make friends with other species. The audio tapes document his life as an adolescent, showing him grow up to live in self-exile with Simba, a decision which reinforces Kopa's strong attachment to his father. As an adolescent, Kopa displays a strong sense of responsibility that he most likely gets from his mother Nala, as he pushes his father to return to the Pride Lands against all odds. Even when rejected, Kopa shows determination and persistence, taking matters into his own paws in order to nudge his father in the right direction. In this way, Kopa takes strongly after his mother, having a good sense of accountability and dedication to his family and pride.
- In the original screenplay for the first film, the cub at the end is simply referred to as a "newborn cub." The directors jokingly refer to it as "Fluffy" in the audio commentary featured on the Laserdisc and DVD releases of the film. This goes back to how no one working on the film expected it to be successful. Therefore, no one planned ahead to any books or sequels.
- In an interview with Phil Weinstein, the storyboard director of The Lion King II: Simba's Pride, Weinstein admits that he'd had no knowledge of Kopa during production of the film. Since Weinstein was among the production crew of Simba's Pride and assumingly all crew members had no knowledge of Kopa, this would explain why Kopa was never included in Simba's Pride.
- At the end of most storybooks based off the film, it is stated that Rafiki lifts up Simba and Nala's newborn son. In the audio books and books rereleased after The Lion King II: Simba's Pride, this has not changed. Though there is no name mentioned, it does specifically mention a son, not a daughter. The only exceptions to this are some storybooks that were published four years before the release of Simba's Pride, in which the cub is specifically mentioned as a girl.
- Alex Simmons, the author of A Tale of Two Brothers, has confirmed that Kopa was never truly affiliated with Disney and was solely his creation with Disney's label.
|“||Nala: Did you have fun with Pimbi?|
Kopa: How did you know what I was doing?
Nala: You are never far from my sight or my protection. I can see everything that moves on the plain.
|“||Nala: Must you follow your father everywhere?|
Kopa: Sure! There's a lot I have to learn if I'm gonna be king someday!
Nala: Like hunting for your own supper?
Kopa: Hunting? Mo-om! That's girl stuff!
Nala: Sorry, Your Majesty!
|“||Kopa: Let's wrestle, Dad! Huh? We haven't wrestled since maybe this morning.|
Simba: That long, huh?