Christian The Lion Born to be Free
Christian the lion, a factual story of the bond between man and the king of the Jungle, An odd journey of Christian from the Zoo to Harrods and even to the Lions of Kenya.
This is an interesting story of true friendship and love between man and animals, the story highlights the superiority of man over all other creatures and how man can live in harmony with all that was created. Christian is a male lion that was born in August 1969 in Ilfracombe zoo in Devon. Christian and his sister were rejected by their mother and the had to grow from the zoo cared for by the zoo people. When Christian and his sister were a few months old, a prestigious department store in London called the Harrods bought these two lions.
The Two lions (Christian and is sister) were sold to John Rendall and Ace Bourke, who had just come from Australia to work in London at a shop called Sophistocat. Since they were new in London, they had to explore the city and in turn they visited Harrod`s and saw this little cub of a lion peeping in the window. They felt in love for this lion and had to buy him and take him to their apartment in Chelsea and named the cub Christian and even built for him a house at the basement of their Antique shop. They reared and cared for Christian as they pet with great love and made him part of their family. they actually became like his parents. They would move with him in their posh car around London and he also had freedom for local occurrence.
Christian had a social character and like any other younger, he started growing bigger and made a lot of excitement to people in long, it become too hard to control him in the dance populated London as he would associate with almost anyone. Once upon a time, luck came his way when Virginia McKenna and Bill Travers the “Born Free” movie actors visited the Sophistocat Antique Shop and saw Christian. They got amazed buy Christian and suggested to the owners of Christian (Ace & John) to contact George Adamson who could rehabilitate Christian and take him back into the wild and set him free!
It was hard for Ace and John to believe this but still they well knew that as a grownup and huge lion, Christian wouldn’t be easy to maintain in London. Ace and John were finally convinced and contacted George Adamson. Adamson came, contacted the Kenya wildlife Service and they agreed that Christian be brought to Kenya.
It wasn’t that easy for the bureaucratic wheels to turn in Kenya and allow Christian be transferred into Africa. Because the environment in London had not favored Christian, Ace and John decided to first leave their job and shift out of the city center at least 30miles away, out in the countryside near to Bill Travers home where there was some good space for Christian to move around.
Christian at this time was about one year old, he need a lot to learn to get ready for the wilds of Africa which wasn’t easy because even when he arrived in the country sides of England, he showed a lot of nervousness and little aggression.
Virginia and Bill decided to build a large compound for Christian so that he could get enough space and this was like his ever wild he had lived. Christian never minded, he seemed to enjoy the environment and settled down.
As they were waiting for the bureaucratic wheels to allow Christian be brought into the wilds of Kenya, Ace and John were always worried about missing him when he leaves them. They decided to spend much of their time with him well knowing that soon he would leave. Ace and john gave their maximum attention to Christian and after like four months of strong intact. They built a very strong bond with Christian that he knew them and they knew him more. He relied on them for everything and loved them as they also loved him.
George Adamson who was well experienced in working with wild animals that needed rehabilitation and was also proud to introduce Christian into his Kora Nature Reserve and he was making the camp readier. Christian was put on a flight into Africa and also had to travel 200 miles into an African bush of Kora Natural Reserve. He was shocked by a very different environment.
He came along with his friends Ace and John, they cared for him in Africa and he had some comfort he actually slept on bed with his head rested on the pillow on his first night in Africa as he shared a tent with his human friends.
Christian showed no any kind of aggression the first time he encountered hippos and crocodiles but just little interest. This made the two men Ace and John more relaxed that he would adopt but the truth was that Christian was a London lion in Africa! He was a great risk in wilds because of his background. Christians first challenge was meeting George`s man-made lions who seemed not interested to be joined by another male in their territory before he even met those wild lions. George Adamson saw that Christian was willing to adopt but had no any experience, Gorge had to then spend the whole of Christian`s first year training him.
Ace and john returned to Kora in 1971-a year after they had left Christian in in Kora National Reserve of Kenya. They came to visit him despite all the criticisms that they were risking and that it would be a wasted trip.
They were suspicious about their encounter with Christian after a whole year of no see and thought this would be more dangerous for them. George stood with Christian on top of the hill about 100m away together from Ace and John in the anxious territory of Christian. When Christian saw the two men from a distance, he stopped and stared at them and then he slowly slopped down the hill towards the men (Ace & John). Because of the love the two men had for this lion, they couldn’t control their emotions and tensions, they had to called him by the name. Surprisingly, Christian came running and bonded towards them and jumped into their arms-a sign of joyous reunion and heartfelt recognition. Christian showed a lot of excitement to see Ace and John again.
Ace & John came back again in June 1972, to anxiously see the then 3-year-old Christian despite warnings from Gorge that Christian rarely comes to camp. They waited until the 3rd day when Christian came back to the camp, at three years, Christian had become much bigger and mature. He looked more respected and energetic but couldn’t forget his men, he was still excited to see them and would sit with Ace and John for a while to show that these men were once there for him and then goes away. Their last night with Christian was interesting, they spent the whole night laughing and playing with him like they used to in London, however much he was no longer a pet but a big and old lion. Christian left in the morning and went back into the wild and the two men never saw him again. It became successful, he was no longer dependent on them and became a true African lion.
Christian used to come back at the Camp and stay with George but he never used to be at good terms with other lions in Kora, he could then stay away for longer periods from the camp and in 1973, he never came back into kora and he was seen heading to Meru national park. It is beleieved that Christian was able to live in his free lion of a true African lion and there is hope that some of his offspring still live today in Kenya.