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Encyclopedia > Pride of Baghdad
Cover to Pride of Baghdad

Pride of Baghdad is an original graphic novel written by Brian K. Vaughan and illustrated by Niko Henrichon released by DC Comics' Vertigo imprint on September 13, 2006. The story is a fictionalized version of the true story of four lions who escaped from the Baghdad zoo after an American bombing in 2003. Image File history File links Prideofbaghdad. ... Image File history File links Prideofbaghdad. ... Trade paperback of Will Eisners A Contract with God (1978), often mistakenly cited as the first graphic novel. ... Brian K. Vaughan (born 1976, Cleveland, Ohio) is an American comic book writer best known for the series Y: The Last Man, Ex Machina, Runaways, and Pride of Baghdad. ... Niko Henrichon is a Canadian comic book artist. ... DC Comics is an American comic book and related media company. ... Vertigo logo Vertigo is an imprint of comic book and graphic novel publisher DC Comics. ... This article is about imprints in publishing. ... is the 256th day of the year (257th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... Year 2006 (MMVI) was a common year starting on Sunday of the Gregorian calendar. ... Located in the heart of al-Zawra entertainment park in Baghdad, Iraq, the Baghdad zoo once housed 650 animals. ... Located in the heart of al-Zawra entertainment park in Baghdad, Iraq, the Baghdad zoo once housed 650 animals. ...

It won the IGN 2006 best original graphic novel.


  • Zill, the lead male of the pride.
  • Safa, an old lioness, blind in one eye, who has become accustomed to captivity and views the human "keepers" as allies.
  • Noor, a younger lioness, mother to Ali. Noor longs for freedom from the zoo.
  • Ali, a young cub.
  • Bukk, a lion from Safa's past.
  • Fajer, a blood-thirsty bear.
  • Rashid, a tortured lion close to his death


Pages 1-45 The story opens with a bird high up in a tree in the Baghdad Zoo declaring that the sky is falling. The following page shows his prediction to be true as American F-18s zoom over the head of Zill, the lead male of the Pride of Baghdad. Zill wanders over to Safa, the matriarch of the Pride, and Ali, the young cub of Noor, the final lion in the foursome. The three discuss the jets, and Safa indicates that she sees what is coming down the pike.

The scene shifts to Noor, having a clandestine meeting with the Antelope. Noor is trying to organize a "riot" that would result in all of the animals being freed from the zoo. Antelope does not trust that Noor would not turn him into dinner as soon as they were all free, even though Noor insists she would not. "We either live apart or die together, lion. I made my choice long ago," declares Antelope.

Ali arrives to tell Noor that lunch has arrived... fresh skinned bunnies. As the four lions eat, Ali is anxious to hear stories of "the wild." Safa points out to Noor, who is so eager for freedom, that the outside world is not always rosy. We are treated to a flashback scene where Safa reveals she was about to be gang-raped by a lion named Bukk and his brothers, and how she lost sight in her right eye. In response to Ali's questions about the past, Safa only responds, "There were... flies, Ali." Zill points out that he lived in a different area than Safa, and that what he remembers best are the beautiful sunsets, spread across the horizon. Ali asks, "What's a horizon?"

Suddenly, a full grown, skinned donkey is thrown into the lion's pen. The keepers are leaving the zoo, and they have left one final meal for the lions. Zill tries to get everybody to safety, as he suspects what is coming next, but he is not fast enough. An American bomb explodes, sending everybody flying. The lions are okay, and Ali asks, "Was that a horizon?" Zill gathers the lions in their barred cage as bombs continue to explode. As the smoke clears, we see that the lions are now free. Their cage, as well as the other cages and walls in the zoo, has been destroyed. Noor importantly intones that, "This isn't right. Freedom can't be given, it must be earned."

Zill, Noor, and Ali decide to venture out of the zoo, but Safa says that it is too dangerous in "the wild" and that staying in the bombed-out zoo is the better choice. As Zill, Noor, and Ali set out, more bombs rock the zoo, and Ali is separated from Zill and Noor. He is taken by the monkeys to their island sanctuary, where they intend to cut Ali and mark him as a member of their family. It would seem that Zill and Noor can do nothing, because even though they find Ali, they couldn't rescue him, since they're unable to swim. Suddenly, Safa appears on a wall within jumping distance of the island. In a heartbeat, she is upon the monkeys, rending their flesh with her teeth and claws. Ali is saved.

The four lions are reunited, and Safa says she will now join the other three as they venture out. Now that she has attacked the monkeys, she is a marked lion in the zoo. Ali complains that his belly hurts, when they chance upon Antelope, free and in the open. Zill thinks he has found a meal for the family at last, but Noor intervenes, saying that Antelope must not be hurt. She would prefer that he live and go back to tell the other animals that a lioness always keeps her word. With empty stomachs, the Pride of Baghdad leave the zoo.

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