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Villain Overview

Sabor is the secondary antagonist of Disney's 37th full-length animated feature film, Tarzan, and the tertiary antagonist of Tarzan II. She is a female leopard who killed Tarzan's parents and Kerchak and Kala's son. In a way, she is the reason Kala adopted Tarzan.

She was voiced by Frank Welker.

Personality

While the reason of her villainy was due to living as a fierce, dangerous, bloodthirsty, and aggressive predator who is trying to survive in a harsh jungle like realistic predators, Sabor is also regarded as a villainous character due to the fact that her antagonism and villainy are motivated by her odds with the gorillas: Sabor viewed Kala as one of her archenemies since the female gorilla saved the baby Tarzan not long after she killed his parents and the said gorilla's son. However, Sabor seemed to focused more on Tarzan than Kala, which is seemingly obvious due to the fact that she was denied the opportunity to eat Tarzan at least twice (which the second time was due to Zugor's interference) and thus marked Tarzan as the main priority.

History

Tarzan

In the Walt Disney produced animated movie "Tarzan", the meaning of the word was changed yet again, to "leopard", despite the prior existence of a different and quite serviceable Mangani term for leopard (Sheeta). The alteration appears to have been made for two reasons. The first was for factual accuracy; lions are in fact creatures of the veldt, not the jungle as portrayed in Burroughs's tales; in African jungles, the dominant (and only) large predator is indeed the leopard. The second was more aesthetic; Sabor, they felt, is simply a more evocative and interesting word than Sheeta.

The specific Sabor appearing in the film is the female leopard that kills Tarzan's parents and kills Kala's and Kerchak's child and is later killed by Tarzan in turn. This occurs during a running fight between the two that culminates when Sabor leaps down on Tarzan and plunges them both into a pit, and is incidentally impaled on the head of Tarzan's spear tip as the ape man raises it against the leopard, killing her. Tarzan then calls out his famous ape man cry, as he lifts up Sabor's dead body.

Tarzan II

Sabor also made a brief appearance in Tarzan II, which took place during Tarzan's youth. While she chased Tarzan into a valley, she nearly kills Tarzan, but the sudden cry of the Zugor frightens her off.

Legend of Tarzan

Sheeta, the discarded original Burroughs designation, was later used in The Legend of Tarzan as the name for one of two black panthers that attack together (the name of the other was Noru). Black panthers are actually a color variety of leopards and they do exist in African jungles, although they seem to be rare. Sabor has been mentioned in the series.

Controversy

Despite being a leopard, Sabor was portrayed in a very stylized way, with a body and head with strange angles, very long thin fangs, and scarce spots unlike those of a real leopard. This design contrasts sharply with that of other characters in the movie (like Kerchak) who were designed on a relatively more realistic style. As usual in film depictions of big cats, Sabor's roars are a mixture of sounds of several felines, including leopards, lions, and tigers, but especially cougars.

Kingdom Hearts

Sabor

Sabor as she appears in Kingdom Hearts.

Sabor features as a prominent antagonist and boss in the Deep Jungle world in the first Kingdom Hearts game. After the main character, Sora, crash lands in the treehouse, Sabor attempts to kill him, but Sora beats Sabor back until Tarzan appears and drives her off. She later attacks Sora, Donald, Goofy and Tarzan several times, but is always forced to back off. Eventually, just when Clayton goes missing, Sabor appears for one final battle with Sora, who kills her.

Trivia

  • Sabor is classified as a female leopard (also called the leopardess).
  • Sabor is the only villain in Tarzan as a female.
  • Jiminy Cricket's journal entry in Kingdom Hearts infamously got Sabor's gender wrong, referring to her as a "he".
  • Sabor is another close enemy of Tarzan, alongside Clayton, since she killed his birth parents and relentlessly pursued him ever since he was a baby.
  • Sabor is the only villain in Tarzan who never speaks.
  • The name "Sabor" means "taste" in Spanish and Portuguese.
  • Sabor is very similar to Shere Khan from The Jungle Book.
    • Both are predators and want to kill the protagonist (Tarzan for Sabor; Mowgil for Shere Khan).
    • Both are scared of something and run away (Sabor is scared by and afraid of Zugor; Shere Khan is afraid of fire).
  • She is made to look like the movie's main antagonist, but is killed off halfway to introduce the real main antagonist.
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