I'm your mother. I know everything. Now, where have you been?
~ Kala to Tarzan
Kala is the adopted gorilla mother of Tarzan, whom as a baby she rescued from Sabor, the wife later widow of Kerchak, the aunt of Terk and a supporting character in Disney's 1999 film, Tarzan and its follow up TV series and midquel film.
She was voiced by Glenn Close in the films, and in The Legend of Tarzan, she was voiced by Susanne Blakeslee, who also voiced Wanda in The Fairly Oddparents.
Kala is calm, gentle, kind, loving, and beautiful. She loves her son Tarzan unconditionally, although she said that she knew Tarzan wouldn't replace her firstborn son who was killed by the leopard Sabor. Although she is usually a gentle person, Kala is capable of aggression when necessary and is also very brave, fighting against the deadly leopard Sabor in order to protect baby Tarzan. Kala often disagreed with her husband Kerchak but despite this they did love each other and Kala was sad when Kerchak died.
Kala is first seen with Kerchak and their young son. However one night whilst Kala and Kerchak sleep, their son leaves their nest and chases a frog, before running into a leopard called Sabor, who pursues the youngster. Kala and Kerchak hear the noise and rush to help their son, only to arrive too late and watch on in horror as their son is attacked and killed by Sabor. Kala weeps over her son's death whilst being comforted by an equally devastated Kerchak.
Sometime later, Kerchak (presumably to prevent anymore deaths) leads the gorillas to a new home. Kala hears crying and leaves the group and follows the noise. She comes to a treehouse and finds a human baby, whose parents were killed by Sabor. Just then, Sabor appears and attacks Kala. Luckily, Kala is able to escape her and takes the baby back to the group. Kala shows the baby to the other gorillas (including her niece Terk). Kerchak arrives and tells Kala to take the baby back as he cannot replace their son. However Kala is able to get Kerchak to change his mind and let her keep him after she reveals that Sabor killed the baby's parents. Kala then names the baby Tarzan.
A few years later, Tarzan, now a young boy, unintentionally causes an elephant stampede whilst trying to get an elephant hair for Terk and is mistaken for a piranha by a young elephant calf named Tantor (who Tarzan later befriends). After being scolded by Kerchak for what had happened, Kala comes to the boy's defence and is berated by her husband for doing so, believing that Tarzan would not learn from his mistakes or learn to be a gorilla, to which Kala replies that Kerchak never gives Tarzan a chance to prove himself. Kerchak angrily declares that Tarzan will never be one of them. After Tarzan runs off in sadness, Kala follows him and comforts him and encourages him to improve himself and show Kerchak that he can be as good as any ape.
Years later, Tarzan grows into a young adult and attempts to prank Kala by sneaking up behind her and a noise, but she catches him in the act without even looking. When Tarzan questions Kala on how she knew it was him, she replies that she is his mother and knows everything. She then asks Tarzan where he has been, to which Tarzan replies that he thought Kala knew everything. Just then, Terk arrives and playfully knocks Tarzan down before greeting and complimenting Kala, who greets her back just as Tarzan retailiates and starts wrestling Terk. Suddenly, Sabor arrives and attacks Kerchak. Kala watches on as Tarzan comes to Kerchak's defence and battles and kills Sabor, to the proudness of Kala and the other gorillas. Shortly after, gunshoots are heard, causing Kala and the others to flee, whilst Tarzan goes to investigate the noise. Later, Kala and Kerchak find Tarzan, Terk, Tantor and several of the other gorillas in a camp with an English woman named Jane Porter (who has come to the jungle to study gorillas). Kerchak orders the troop to leave the camp and Kala leads Tarzan away as Jane's father Archimedes Q. Porter and a hunter named Clayton (who is serving as the Porters guide) arrive. Afterwards Kerchak orders the troop to keep away from the humans to which Tarzan protests. Kala urges Tarzan to listen to Kerchak for once, to which Tarzan questions her over why she never told him there were creatures like him. Kala is later seen during the song "Strangers Like Me" where she and Terk watch Tarzan go to the camp to be taught about human life by the Porters and Clayton.
Sometime later, Tarzan convinces Terk and Tantor to disguise themselves as the Porters to distract Kerchak whilst he bring the real Porters and Clayton to meet Kala and the other gorillas. Kala is at first wary of the humans, but warms to them after seeing Jane playing with the younger gorillas. Suddenly, Kerchak returns and tries to attack the humans, but is stopped by Tarzan, whom Kerchak accuses of betraying the troop. Later that night, Kala takes Tarzan to the treehouse where she found him as a baby and shows him a picture of his biological parents. When Tarzan decides to go to England with the Porters and Clayton, he tells Kala that no matter where he went, she would always be his mother, to which Kala replies that Tarzan would always be in her heart.
However after Tarzan leaves, Kala and the other gorillas are captured by Clayton and his men (who wish to sell the gorillas on the black market). Luckily, Tarzan, Terk, Tantor, Jane and Professor Porter arrive and free the gorillas and battle Clayton and his men. However during the battle, Tarzan is shot in the shoulder by Clayton. As Kala tends to Tarzan, Kerchak in retaliation, charges at Clayton, only to be shot in the chest. After Clayton's death, Kala is seen comforting a dying Kerchak, just as Tarzan returns from his confrontion with Clayton. The two sadly embrace before Tarzan goes to Kerchak. Kala and the others watch on sadly as Kerchak dies after finally accepting Tarzan as his son and makes him the gorillas new leader.
After the Porters decide to stay in the jungle, Kala is last seen being given flowers by Tarzan and Jane
In the original Tarzan novel, Kala was married to Tublat (who serves as a villain in The Legend of Tarzan) and took in Tarzan after Kerchak (portrayed as villainous) killed his father. Years later, Kala is killed by a hunter, but Tarzan avenges her death by killing the hunter.