Ma Tembo is a large gray elephant with a paler underbelly, a broken tusk and large pink inner ears. She has a few small hairs atop her head and a few darker markings across her forehead.
Ma Tembo is shown to be humorous, kind, easygoing, and compassionate. She is very forgiving, and she appears to view things from an optimistic perspective. She is very sympathetic, even to those who attack her and very protective towards the young ones in her herd. Like, Simba she also views tradition as extremely important and works hard to make a first impression.
She is a brave leader who won't hesitate to put herself in danger to save the more vulnerable animals, both in her herd and in the Pride Lands. Ma Tembo perseveres through difficult times.
Ma Tembo is seen at her father's funeral with the rest of her herd. She watches the other elephants lay their tributes and smiles when a baby elephant lays their flowers down upon the corpse of her late father.
Later, she announces that Simba will be saying a few words about her father. She listens to Simba's mistake in speaking Elephantese, and, although at first appears surprised, she simply laughs. She admits that her father did indeed have 'poop' on him, and then thanks Simba, whilst recalling amusing times with her father.
Ma Tembo hosts The Elephants' Concert, although Simba is unable to attend after falling down a sinkhole. She is seen conducting the concert, with Kiara and Nala attending instead. She is honored to have two members of the royal family attend, and she shows her respect by bowing to them. Shortly after the concert closes, Simba, along with Timon and Pumbaa and the Lion Guard, show up to pay their respects. Simba suggests that his family joins him in singing a special song from his past and Ma Tembo and the elephants happily agree.
Ma Tembo is seen heading towards Pride Rock for the Savannah Summit with several other leaders, including Makuu. She is one of the few animals that accepts Makuu being at the event. She then heads to Mizimu Grove, eventually getting comfortable and snuggling up to everyone during the song, Welcome to the Summit.
In an effort to find out who's plotting against Makuu, Kion convincingly tells the leaders that Makuu completed his journey through the Circle of Life, with Ma Tembo expressing sadness. When Makuu is revealed to be alive and well and forgiving towards those who wronged him, she lets out a large cheer as the summit continues.
One morning, the Lion Guard notice several animals running off in a certain direction. When Ma Tembo rushes past the Lion Guard, they try to find out what she's in a hurry for, but she tells them that she can't stop. She makes her way to a sausage tree, having heard of a marvelous show from other animals. When the performers arrive, Uroho, the leader of The Traveling Baboon Show, performs a magic trick with her, with shocks the elephant. After enjoying the show, she and most of the animals leave the area.
But when they discover a large patch of land devoid of food, she calls for the Lion Guard to help assist her. With the food disappearing so suddenly, she is certain that there's a food thief, and the Lion Guard agree to help. Ma Tembo then guides the other animals away to find more food, leaving the Guard to their work. A bit later, after being discovered as the thieves, Uroho offers Ma Tembo a fruit which she graciously accepts. Feeling bad, the baboons offer her and the other animals a free show, as their way of apology.
When Janja's Clan attacks her herd, Kion and the Lion Guard rushes to protect them. Ma Tembo remains calm during the ordeal, instructing her herd to protect the younger members of the herd.
After being rescued, Kion questions upon their wellness, and Ma Tembo warmly assures and thanks him, Fuli comments upon her disbelief of the hyenas attacking the elephants, and Ma Tembo sympathetically replies that food must be scarce in the Outlands, to which Kion responds by stating the better chances they'd have if they respected the Circle of Life.
Ma Tembo agrees but reminds Kion of the hardships of the Dry Season. After Ono questions her, Ma Tembo denies having found a water source but explains that she'd never led a search before, and it was harder than expected to hear underground water, even without hyena attacks. Beshte states her safety to continue searching now the hyenas had gone, and her herd agrees. Ma Tembo agrees, and embraces Kion, confessing that the responsibility of caring for others during the Dry Season was more than she expected. Kion sympathizes with her, and upon their departure, sends Ono to keep an eye on them.
Later, the hyenas attack again, targeting the baboons that have begun to follow the elephants, and the Guard arrives to defend them. Ono and Ma Tembo lead the elephants to the base of a cliff, with the baboons following. Once assembled, Kion confronts Janja, orders him to leave, and barely restraining his anger, unleashes the Roar. When the hyenas have gone, Kion questions Big Baboon, and he states to have been following Ma Tembo. Ono and Ma Tembo explain the reason, and after Kion questions her, Ma Tembo states her responsibility, and role in the Circle of Life. She goes on to state that things will be well once the new water source is found. Bunga chimes in with his assurances and Ma Tembo warmly agrees, remarking her near preference of the hyenas to baboons, a statement that is echoed by Fuli. Kion wishes Ma Tembo luck, and Ma Tembo thanks him. As the Guard leaves, with Beshte and Kion expressing their concerns and regrets at not being able to provide additional assistance, the elephants and baboons begin chanting, which quietly overwhelms her. Observing the scene, Kion decides to share the trouble with his father.
Later, Kiara asks her parents for permission to help Ma Tembo and is allowed to do what she can. Accompanied by Makini, she departs. They arrive to find Ma Tembo surrounded by her herd and several impatient Pride Landers. Kiara questions on what could be done to help, and Ma Tembo states not knowing if anything could be done, believing to be in the general area, but have not found the well site. Makini suggests looking for signs, and Ma Tembo agrees, praising Makini, and thanking Kiara. Kiara states her gladness to help and leads Makini away. Later, still surrounded by animals, Ma Tembo attempts to locate a water source but is distracted by the chattering of the animals. Kion questions her, and Ma Tembo denies having had luck, stating that the chattering around her was making it harder. Makini realizes what an earlier lesson from Rafiki meant, and shushes the animals, giving Ma Tembo the peace and quiet she needed.
With nothing to stop her from hearing clearly, Ma Tembo locates the new source, and leads the animals, pointing her trunk towards the ground. Upon the other animals' arrival, she instructs her herd to dig, and the Lion Guard joins in to help. With the new water source unearthed, Ma Tembo gladly announces the discovery, watching as even Makini starts to sing. After she has finished, Kion approaches her and warmly praises Ma Tembo, and they agree that responsibility means never giving up, despite the frustrations.
After the Lion Guard is informed that Chama has been exiled from his herd, Kion tasks himself and Bunga with bringing him back to his family. Kion speaks with Ma Tembo, stating his understanding of the importance of family to the elephants. Ma Tembo agrees, but she explains that Chama had been banished for being a disruption to the herd, and she and Kion watch Bunga and Chama scuffle together. Kion asks her to give Chama one more chance, and Ma Tembo agrees, stating her only reason was that Kion asked it. She tells Chama that he is welcome to rejoin if he promises to behave himself as part of the herd, but this is his last chance. Chama eagerly gives his word, and Kion and Bunga leave. As they go, Bunga belches, and Chama bursts out laughing, spraying Ma Tembo with sand. Kion awkwardly asks for Chama to be given one last chance.
In Mizimu Grove, Ma Tembo is ordering her herd around in preparation for the upcoming Ukumbusho celebration. As they prepare, the Lion Guard enter the grove, followed shortly by Makini. The mandrill apologizes to Ma Tembo for her tardiness, and she is directed to a pile of fruits to be used for the peace paint. While she gets started, Ma Tembo speaks with the Lion Guard, asking if they are ready. While Kion is enthusiastic, the rest of the Lion Guard lack his spark, though agree nonetheless. Ma Tembo then directs them to a place where they can rehearse.
Noticing that Fuli is speaking too quickly, Ma Tembo starts to have doubts about their performance. Timon and Pumbaa arrive to coach the Lion Guard and, although hesitant to let them help, Ma Tembo allows them to do so nonetheless, taking all the help she can get. Suddenly, she remembers that the previous Lion Guards have always been lions. Although the Guard can't do anything about this, Makini offers to paint them to look like lions. Ma Tembo is happy about this, though reminds her that she must finish painting the sunbursts on the elephants. Since this is Simba's first Ukumbusho, she is adamant that it must be perfect.
But after Makini has painted the Lion Guard, she runs out of yellow paint halfway through Zito's paint. When Ma Tembo hears about this, she starts to worry, and becomes more flustered when Mtoto's Mom reveals that she hasn't even started to rehearse her lines with Bunga. Kion suggests that Makini finds some more paint and she does so, returning with some yellow flowers. Once King Simba arrives, Ma Tembo alerts everyone to his presence before welcoming him.
With several elephants and Simba's Pride all waiting anxiously around Mizimu Grove, the event begins, with the Guard singing "May There Be Peace", and telling the tale of Askari, the first Lion Guard leader, and how he brought peace between the elephants and lions, agreeing to protect each other and everyone who obeys the Circle of Life. Ma Tembo is happy to see the event running smoothly, until a swarm of bees suddenly arrive, chasing the elephants away.
Ma Tembo continues running into Sehemu Pass, where she becomes trapped between two rock formations. Mtoto sprays her forehead with dirt, removing the paint and causing the bees to leave. Although at first she is angered, she quickly calms down when she notices the absence of the bees. After Beshte gives her a gentle nudge to get out, she and Mtoto spray Zito and Johari as they become trapped in the exact same area as well.
After the Lion Guard save Mtoto's Mom as well, Ma Tembo returns to the grove and apologizes to Simba, explaining how bee stings in the trunk can be very, very painful. Makini apologizes, but Ma Tembo assures Makini that it wasn't their fault, and Makini suggests finding more yellow paint to try again. But Kion suggests trying it without anymore paint. Ma Tembo is hesitant to break with tradition, so Simba suggests looking at it as starting a new tradition. Ma Tembo agrees, and the new Ukumbusho begins.
When Bunga wishes to put on a Christmas celebration for his uncles, Beshte speaks with Ma Tembo's herd about involving them in the show. Although Ma Tembo is skeptical, particularly of the "Dandy Claws" character she hears about, Mtoto persuades her by mentioning how Beshte is practically family and that their part is like a show. Remembering how much she enjoys performing, she agrees, and later that night they meet Bunga and several other animals to rehearse.
They continue practicing through the night, but when they appear not to have got the hang of it, they start leaving. When King Simba manages to get Bunga to speak about why it's so important to him, Ma Tembo bows and agrees to keep trying.
When a fire breaks out at Kilio Valley, the Lion Guard try to extinguish the flames. When the fire strangely reignites, Ma Tembo offers three of her strongest elephants to the Lion Guard, while she leads the rest of her herd to safety. However, the Army of Scar ambush the elephants, prompting Ma Tembo and her herd to protect the little ones. After a while, they realize that they are outnumbered and have no choice but to retreat under the guidance of the Lion Guard, leaving the valley to the army.
When safe, Ma Tembo gazes out at her former home, which has been completely destroyed by the blaze. Kion assures her that he'll find them a new home and leads them to Ndefu Grove, where Laini gladly welcomes them to stay. But when the elephants enter the grove, their large size causes them to smash into the trees, knocking Laini and hergalagos to the ground. Although Kion temporarily solves the problem by getting the elephants to stop, Ma Tembo realizes that they cause trouble for the galagos, forcing Kion to find them another home.
Kion takes the herd to Acacia Grove, where Twiga reluctantly agrees to house them. But shortly after their acceptance, Twiga worries over the amount of food they eat. Ma Tembo understands, and the herd follows Kion to his final option - Bupu's Herd. Bupu eventually accepts, and the elephants make themselves at home by spraying dirt on themselves. When the dirt hits Bupu, he deems their behavior unacceptable.
A short time later, Ma Tembo and her herd are kicked out. Kion catches up with them and pleads with them to stay, but Ma Tembo makes it clear that they need a real home, and that there is nowhere in the Pride Lands for them. She leads her herd away from the Pride Lands entirely.
She doesn't get too far when Kion returns to Ma Tembo's herd and asks for their help with a fire that has broken out in Ndefu Grove. Ma Tembo states that the Pride Landers are her family and agrees to help, ordering Mtoto's Mom to stay behind with the little ones. They set off, taking the route through Lake Kiziwa. When they arrive, the elephants arrive and quickly spray the blaze with water dispersed from their trunks. Using water and dirt, they are able to save most of Ndefu Grove.
After seeing them save their home, Laini thanks Ma Tembo's herd. Overwhelmed by their kindness having turned them down before, she asks Ma Tembo and her herd to live with them. Ma Tembo gladly accepts her offer. But while her herd gets to know their new friends, the leader gazes out at her true home. Noticing her distress, Kion approaches her and makes a promise that they'll get her home back. Although Ma Tembo knows this, she is confident that Kilio Valley is just land, and that they already are home.