Sunday, December 14, 2008

Christian the Lion

Perhaps, you're already hip to this.

If you happened to be watching MSNBC yesterday (Saturday) morning, you got to see it - about every three-minutes, for it was voted, by Time Magazine, or someone, as one of the top viral videos of the year.

In spite of the hype, and over-exposure, it is quite impressive, and heart-tugging.

From Daniela, who put together the video;

Christian was a lion purchased in 1969 by two Australians living in London, John Rendall and Anthony 'Ace' Bourke (sometimes erroneously cited as Ace Berg) from Harrods department store. They had discovered him for sale in Harrods' exotic pets department and, concerned for his conditions and fate, decided to buy him.

Rendall, Bourke and their girlfriends Jennifer Mary and Unity Jones cared for the lion until it was a year old. Christian's increasing size and the cost of looking after him led them to the realization that they could not keep him in London for much longer. The solution came when Bill Travers and Virginia McKenna, stars of the film Born Free, visited Rendall and Bourke's furniture shop, where Christian spent his days. They suggested that they ask the assistance of George Adamson, the Kenyan conservationist who, together with his wife Joy, was the subject of their movie. Adamson agreed to help them rehabilitate Christian into the wild at his compound at Kora National Reserve.

Adamson slowly introduced Christian to an older lion 'Boy' and subsequently to a female cub Katiana in order to form the nucleus of a new pride. Tragedy struck several times: Katiana was possibly devoured by crocodiles at a watering hole. Another female was killed by wild lions. Boy was so injured that he lost his ability to socialize with other lions and humans, and was shot through the heart by Adamson after fatally wounding a man.

That left Christian as the only surviving member of the original pride.

Adamson continued his work, and over the course of a year the pride established itself in the region around Kora, with Christian as the head of the pride started by Boy.

When Rendall & Bourke were informed by Adamson of the successful result in 1971, they traveled to Kenya to pay the visit to Christian that was filmed in the documentary The Lion at World's End. According to the documentary, Adamson warned Rendall and Bourke that Christian may not remember them, but the film shows a first cautious lion suddenly leaping onto the two men, wrapping his arms on their shoulders and licking their faces. The documentary also shows the female lions, Mona and Lisa, and a foster cub named Supercub welcoming the two men because of the influence of Christian.

Rendall details a final reunion that occurred in 1974. By this time Christian was successfully defending his own pride and had cubs of his own -- and he was about twice the size he was in the 1971 reunion video. Adamson warned them that it would most likely be a wasted trip as he had not seen Christian's pride for nine months. However they discovered when they reached Kora that Christian and his pride had returned to Adamson's compound the day before their arrival.

Rendall describes the visit he, Bourke, and George Adamson made: "We called him and he stood up and started to walk towards us very slowly. Then, as if he had become convinced it was us, he ran towards us, threw himself on to us, knocked us over, knocked George over and hugged us, like he used to, with his paws on our shoulders."

The reunion lasted until the next morning when everyone went to bed. According to Rendall that was the last anyone saw of Christian.

Adamson counted the days after that visit until Christian's return, but gave up waiting after 97 days

If you want to write to John and Ace or send a donation please write to:
George Adamson Wildlife Preservation Trust
Drumroll, please ...

Christian The Lion Full version Music Video HQ

Bonus Links

The Lion Reunion Video Sensation

Man in ‘hugging’ lion video reveals its secrets; One of animal’s owners tells story that still tugs heartstrings after decades

No comments: