Zira is a thin, fully grown lioness with dusty brown fur and a notch on one of her striped ears. Her angular eyes are red, and her nose is black. The fur on either side of her face is long, forming two triangular points. Her muzzle is also longer than the average lion's, with the fur at the end of her chin scruffy. Her claws are always extended.
It's your choice, Kion. With me. Or against me. But if you're against me... You'll never leave the Outlands.
Zira is sneaky and devious, feigning hospitality on numerous occasions in an attempt to get someone to side with her. She is set in her beliefs and cannot be swayed. Zira also loathes hyenas. Additionally, she believes that lions should rule with an iron fist as opposed to being benevolent to all living creatures. She does not have much respect for the Circle of Life. She can be violent and even ruthless enough to kill a cub if they do not do her bidding. She is also very manipulative, as shown as she successfully tricked Jasiri into believing that Kion has joined her pride, and displayed a vaguely reasonable demeanor to Kion before she revealed her truly vicious and wicked self in vengeful response to Kion's statement that Scar was never the rightful king.
Zira lived in the Pride Lands during the reign of Scar, who selected her son, Kovu, to be the next ruler of Pride Rock. Scar was later defeated by his nephew Simba, who took over as the rightful king. However, Zira disputed this and fought Simba, as she was very close to Scar. She lost, and Simba banished her, her family, and her followers to the Outlands.
Zira and her family take over the watering hole belonging to a hyena clan led by Jasiri and refuse to share it. Simba's son Kion enters the Outlands, accompanied by Jasiri and is brought to Zira by Nuka and Kovu, and Zira introduces herself to Kion, then him to her daughter, Vitani, and asks what brings him to the Outlands. Jasiri pipes up, informing her of their friendship. Zira is surprised that she is friends with royalty, and Jasiri explains that not only that, he is also the leader of the Lion Guard. Surprised, Zira points out that the Guard isn't there, but Kion states that he is there and confidently asks why she and her family are in the Outlands and why they have taken over Jasiri's watering hole.
Zira slinks away and ignores his questions, instead asking why he just doesn't use the Roar of the Elders to get her the water, which confuse Jasiri, Kion, Nuka, Kovu and Vitani. Zira then explains that as the leader of the Lion Guard, Kion possesses the Roar of the Elders and Kion is surprised that she knows about it. Zira then shows Kion a cloud in the distance and tells him to Roar at it. Still confused at what it could do, Kion does so, and the Roar briefly transforms the cloud into a raincloud, dampening the land and releasing a short burst of rain.
Gobsmacked, Kion asks how she knew about the Roar's powers, but Zira does not feel comfortable discussing it around a hyena. She asks to speak with Kion alone, lion to lion. Hesitantly, Kion agrees. Taking Kion aside, Zira reinstates her pleasure at meeting Kion and tells him that lions are the best rulers, and tries to convince him to join her, singing with Kion "Lions Over All". Afterwards, she leads Kion to her family's home, a cave, where Kion demands to know more about the Roar now that he and Zira are alone. But Zira first wishes to know who's side he is on- lions or hyenas. Kion asserts that he is on the side of the Circle of Life and anyone who respects it.
Suddenly, several lionesses, the Outsiders, surround Kion, revealing that it was a trap set by Zira. She then left him the choice: being with them or against them, and says that if it choice to be against them, he will never leave the Outlands. When he threatens to use the Roar of the Elders against her and her lionesses, she tells him how she once knew someone else with the Roar, and how he lost it when he used it against his fellow lions. Kion knows she's talking about Scar, and Zira reveals that Scar and her were close and that he was the one who told her all about the Roar. She also says that if it wasn't for Simba, Scar would still be King. Kion offends her by declaring that Scar was never the true king and Zira becomes enraged, ordering her lionesses to attack. She wards them off almost immediately after, giving Kion one more chance to join her. She then leaves to get her cubs, leaving Kion surrounded by her lionesses.
Zira tricks Jasiri into thinking that Kion has sided with the Outsiders and orders her to leave, and she does so grudgingly. Zira then returns to Kion with Kovu, Nuka and Vitani.
Upon arriving, Kovu questions Zira why Kion and them can't be friends. She responds that isn't her choice but Kion's. In turn, Nuka questions Zira about if Kion use his Roar against them, fearing that. She responds the same response that she has say to Kion. She also reveals that, without his Roar, Kion is harmless, and Simba's Pride Lands are an open target. Zira then turns to Kion giving him his last chance.
However, Kion is rescued by the Lion Guard and Jasiri. Seeing that Kion is the only lion in the Guard, Zira claims that he is "pathetic" and orders to her lionesses to get ready to fight the outnumbered Guard. When Bunga urges Kion to use the Roar of the Elders against them, he reminds what Zira had told him: Scar lost the roar because he used it against lions, which Zira and the Outsiders are. But Bunga reminds Kion the real reason Scar lost the Roar: he lost it because he used it for evil. Zira refuses to believe it and tries to urge Kion to listen to her since she knows the Roar's powers better. Kion then asserts his stance, telling her that she and her family are not welcome in the Pride Lands or the Outlands. Zira is horrified and attempts one last time to remind him fearfully that they're lions, but Kion ignores her and uses the Roar of the Elders against them, sweeping Zira, her children, and the rest of the Outsiders away. (except Kovu, who soon runs after his family) They land near a termite mound. When Nuka wonders aloud where they are, Zira angrily responds "Our new home”.
In the original press release for "Lions of the Outlands", Suzanne Pleshette was listed as voicing Zira, despite having passed away in 2008. This was changed a few days later, with no mention of who voices Zira until it was reveal that she was now voiced by Nika Futterman.