Zuba was trying to teach a young Alex (then known as "Alakay") how to fight, but the cub was too distracted by dancing. When Makunga challenges Zuba to another fight, Alex wanders off only to come face to face with poachers who lock him in a crate. Zuba chased after the truck and tried to free his son, only to get part of his left ear shot off by the poachers. By the time Zuba's vision clears from the blow, he doesn't notice that Alex's crate had fallen off the truck and into the river and continues to chase it.
Years later (when Zuba finally found Alex), he gets the impression that Alex has come to take over at first, but Florrie notices that they both have the same birthmark and realizes that Alex is their son, Alakay.
Zuba is somewhat confused, as to why Alex is interested in dancing.
After many events in the movie (including Alex failing the rite of passage and shaming his family), Zuba finally accepts Alex for what he is, and even uses one of Alex's acts on him in the last scene of the movie.
Zuba has orange and beige fur and a dark brown mane. He is voiced by the late Bernie Mac in Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa. In fact, this was one of two roles dedicated to Mac's memory.