Book blurb from Amazon
“In 2008, YouTube.com featured an extraordinary film clip that soon became an internet phenomenon. It showed the emotional reunion of two young men and their pet lion, Christian, after they had left him in Africa with Born Free’s George Adamson, who would introduce him into his rightful home in the wild. A Lion Called Christian relates how Anthony ‘Ace’ Bourke and John Rendall visited London from Australia in 1969 and bought a boisterous lion cub in Harrods. For a while, the three of them lived together as flatmates on the King’s Road, Chelsea, where Christian became a local celebrity. But he was growing up, fast, and even the church garden in which he exercised was becoming too small for him. How could Ace and John avoid incarcerating him in a zoo for the rest of his life? A chance meeting with Virginia McKenna and Bill Travers, stars of Born Free, led to Christian being flown to Kenya and placed under the expert care of Adamson. Ace and John did not return to see him for a year. Now, thanks to the internet age, their incredible reunion is again being enjoyed by millions. Originally published in 1971, A Lion Called Christian has been fully revised and updated, telling Christian’s remarkable story in words as well as stunning photographs. It is a unique and extraordinary tale of its time that resonates again today with a worldwide audience, and is destined to become one of the great classics of animal literature.”
This story appealed to me totally when I saw the YouTube clip. It was quite a few years ago now. I just had to get the books and the DVD. It’s such an incredibly heartwarming story and I’m a sucker for animal stories with happy endings. Obviously Christian is no longer, but it still brings tears to my eyes when I re-read it or watch the DVD.
Even now I find it astounding to think that a person could go into a department store and come out with a lion cub. There was a measure of credulity from John and Ace in not thinking things through but I’m not sure I wouldn’t have done the same. And, on reflection, I think Christian had the best of both worlds. Better by far than being bought for a zoo and the fact the two men with the help of George Adamson managed to get Christian back to Africa and rehabilitated into the life he was meant to live is nothing short of amazing.
The photo on the cover of the book is surreal and they actually drove round London just like that, with a lion in the back of the car!
The fact that Christian actually remembered them a year later and each time they subsequently visited him in Africa is very special and touching in the extreme.