Thursday, March 26, 2009

A Love story

Once upon a time (1969) two boys from Oz were living in London and decided to buy a pet to keep in their furniture shop and their flat. John and Ace (those were their names) went to Harrods Zoo and bought a lion cub – things were different then. It was love at first sight and the boys and Christian - the cub - had a joyous time until it became clear that the space was inadequate for the ever growing cub.


Those two early conservationists Virginia McKenna and the late Bill Travers came to their rescue and built a compound in their garden where they would all leap and bound and play happily there, and on the beach at dawn before anyone else was around. As Christian became fully grown another solution had to be found. The boys were adamant he should not go to a zoo or a circus and after a lot of wading through red tape and with the help of George Adamson, they finally delivered Christian to George in Kenya, who planned to let Christian have his own pride. To cut a long, fascinating story short there was a happy ending and the You tube below is the first reunion of John, Ace and Christian after a year’s separation.
Sorry about the faintly political bit on the you tube. If I’m not mistaken that’s the voice of Virginia.

Read the whole story in ‘A Lion called Christian’ by John Rendall and Anthony (Ace) Bourke.

19 comments:

R. Sherman said...

I saw this story some time ago. Fascinating stuff, although, I'm not sure I'd trust a full grown carnivore.

Cheers.

john.g. said...

Saw this on the news this morning! What a great ending!

PI said...

Randall: quite right. An older lion - Boy I think he was - at George Adamson's was injured and it changed his nature and a black keeper ended in his mouth. George shot him but the keeper died.

John.g The programme was on the night before which aroused my interest.

AndrewM said...

I'm a dog man meself.

Mei Del said...

those people must be pretty strong not to be knocked over by that enthusiastic greeting! quite a romantic tale, i love it.

Jimmy Bastard said...

A marvellous story indeed. My youngest daughter had many books on this particular subject.

PI said...

AndrewM: har har !

Mei Del: apparently they could tell from his body language they weren't in danger but braced themselves for the enormous weight of him.

Jimmy; I'll bet she has one on Elsa, Joy Adamson's beloved lion. You know I can't help being nosy - how many children have you? I have two sons, two step-sons and one step- daughter, ten grandchildren between us and two great grandchildren - at last count.

kenju said...

I saw that video on TV and it is so amazing to see!

miss diarist said...

Oh Pat, that's just gorgeous. The fierceness with which Christian hugs them and the looks on their faces... a love story indeed.

Leah said...

When Christian has his moment of recognition, and breaks into his bounding run, I must say I teared up. Amazing.

PI said...

Judy: it seems to have been around since the sixties but only recently burst forth.

Miss D. apparently it was once bounding towards one of their friends in the flat, slipped on the hall floor, claws came out and stripped the friend of her dress - but no injury.

Leah: the whole relationship was very moving.

FrankandMary said...

A friend was just telling me about this, and getting weepy!
I'd have to say at times I trust animals more than people.
~Mary

Crabtree said...

Yes! I have followed this very beautiful history or the magic operates every time! Very touching!

Mary Witzl said...

I think lions are wonderful, but I'm horrified at the thought of one sharing a flat. But it is sweet to see the lion recognizing his former friend...

OldOldLady Of The Hills said...

I have sen this video many many times and it brings tears, EVERY Time! Such a great great story...
Thess men have been on Oprah, here in the U.S. recently, and they are a lot older now and they talked about those early trips and the later trips, too....Now, Christian is so much integrated into his life in the wild that he almost doesn't come out to see them at all...And actually even this may be outdated---it seems to me they said that now the transition has been complete. I believe there is to be a DVD and/or a Book, as well....Such a BEAUTIFUL Touching reunion, that very first time...!

PI said...

Frank and Mary: I've only had two dogs in my life but I could never forget the utter trust they give you and the heart break when they die.

Crabtree: it is almost dream-like. I think if I didn't know the back story I would wonder if it had been faked in some way.

Mary: they were quite fool hardy - even in those days but managed to find a solution as each problem arose.
I visited you yesterday and twice tried to leave a comment - to no avail. I'll try again later on.
Fire fox has these funny little ways.

PI said...

Naomi: the whole world seems to have seen it but it was new to me. I also saw them on breakfast TV and the snake hips have vanished along with much of the hair and they are now middle aged men with a great story.

Guyana-Gyal said...

Youtube takes a while to start up here, but I will persevere. I'm just so glad he's in the wild, I have this theory that animals should just run free, in the open, where they belong.

PI said...

GG: you tube is magic as far as I'm concerned. Conservation is a wonderful thing to protect wild animals and keep them free.