Christian the lion
Source: tigerpride (You Tube) kew words christian lion befriends
In 2008 a lion named Christian became an international sensation, thanks to the internet.
“I think it’s absolutely wonderful how it has (1) the imagination of a whole new generation of people.”
Christian’s amazing journey began in 1969.
Two young Australians, Ace Bourke and John Rendall were soaking up the (2) and sounds of London.
Around Christmas they wandered into Harrods department store and discovered a lion cub for sale in a (3). It is a practice that would shock most people today.
Ace and John bought the lion and called him Christian.
Christian was a friendly, outgoing cub. John and Ace took him all over London.
The two men kept him in the furniture shop in which they worked.
Christian needed plenty of (4) and they convinced a local vicar to let him romp in the gardens of a nearby church.
“We had to be one step ahead of him all the time because he grew very quickly, his (5) and claws were very sharp. He, very quickly, he was too big for us to handle but we never really made him realize it”
“They were just the best of friends in the late sixties in London.”
Tony Fitzjohn, a (6) conservationist, was a young man when he met Christian, Ace and John.
“They just loved each other, you know, and Christian adored them. I mean Ace and John basically were surrogate parents to Christian. They fed him and groomed him, made sure he was safe and didn’t get into trouble and you know, just wanted the best for him in life.”
After leaving Harrods, Christian had grown from (7) around thirty to a hundred and thirty pounds. Ace and John quickly realized that the lion was quickly outgrowing the life they could provide for him.
“They’d looked at Longleat then they didn’t like it, which is a sort of animal park. They’d looked at other possibilities and they hadn’t really come up with anything that was erm, that made them feel happy.
Then, one day, Born Free actor Bill Travers, wandered into the furniture shop. Ace and John introduced him to Christian.
“So they went downstairs and Christian came out from under the table and flattened Bill on the floor. Bill Travers said “I know what we’ll do with Christian, we’ll take him back to George Adamson in Africa where he belongs””
Ace and John moved with Christian to Travers’ estate in the British (8).
Bill had an enclosure built for the lion.
While Ace and John cherished the remaining time with Christian, Bill Travers reached out to George Adamson in Kenya.
Adamson was the British conservationist portrayed in the 1960s film Born Free.
“After a few months, Bill Travers called him up and said “look, there’s this really nice looking lion in England called Christian we want to get out to you.””
“Erm and Bill said well I’ll think about it. So George then started making moves towards the government and ultimately he found this place called Kora.
Ace and John’s (9) with Christian continued to blossom at their new countryside residence. Christian would often greet Ace with a four-legged hug.
And as Ace and John waited to take Christian to Africa, they worried about his (10) and his state of mind.
They even spent months getting Christian used to his cargo box.
Meanwhile, in Kenya, construction began on a new compound.
Christian would have to learn how to be a lion so, as a mentor, George Adamson brought in his old, lion friend Boy who need time to heal from an (11).
And George added one other smaller companion.
“And he went to Kora with Boy and a tiny little lioness cub called Katania he’d been given, that was an orphan”.
As Christian continued his journey from a cage inside Harrods to the plains of Africa there was no turning back.
Like many animals brought up in captivity Christian’s reintroduction into the wild, proved a rocky road.
After he arrived, he was put with young Katania. She (12) Boy and found Christian odd and clumsy.
But before long she had warmed to him.
However, to Boy, Christian was nothing more than an intruder.
Christian had never faced aggression. His (13) was obvious.
For days, Boy kept up his aggressive displays.
The team realized it was important for the males to work things out, face to face, in the open.
If Boy was going to kill Christian, this would be the moment.
To everyone’s relief, Boy did no real damage. Christian was lucky.
It was now clear that Christian would be (14).
Although Ace and John didn’t want to, they knew it was time to leave.
They needed to give Christian the space to become a wild lion. So, sad but hopeful for Christian’s future, they left, unsure whether they would ever see him again
And Christian did eventually live with a group of lionesses in the wild, beyond the compound.
Ace and John missed their companion. About a year after they had left, they returned to Kenya, hoping to see their old friend once again.
When they arrived, the men had no idea what to expect. Would Christian remember them? The lion (15) all doubt from their minds by greeting his old friends, without hesitation.
“Once they give you that trust and affection, they don’t forget who you are and what your relationship was, anymore than a kid forgets who his mother is. However long, however long you’ve been away.”
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