John Rendall, one of Christian's original owners, recommends WildlifeNOW for those who wish to contribute to Christian's legacy. For those outside the US, the same charity can be reached at The George Adamson Wildlife Preservation Trust.
Christian The Lion - A True Story.
Kimba has a parallel in real life.
Christian's story has been told in both a movie and several books.
Click here to see what you can get.
|The part of Kimba's story that always meant the most
to me is not what you might call the main narrative;
it's mostly told in flashbacks, left to unfold as the
series progresses: his life with humans.
|The most familiar part of the story tells how his father was
killed and he left his mother to escape back to
Africa. What we don't learn right away is that he
didn't make it back to Africa, not at first. He landed
somewhere in Europe (remember, he was on the ship for
quite some time) where he was found and cared for by
Roger and his Uncle Pompus. The relationship between
them and Kimba shaped Kimba's personality and his
goal: to create a bridge between animals and humans.
|This idea of bridging the gap between animals and
humans is crucial to everything that happens in his
life, and is the main reason the show means so much to
|Did you know that there are some amazing parallels between this aspect of Kimba and a real-life lion? A lion called Christian...|
|Christian was separated from his parents at an early
age and put up for sale in a London department store.
Christian's parents were zoo lions, the father came
from the Rotterdam zoo and the mother from Jerusalem,
and they lived at the Ilfracombe zoo. When they had
cubs, the zoo sold them, and two cubs went to the
|Two men, Anthony Bourke and John Rendall, found him
there and immediately fell in love with him and
determined to buy him. They scraped together the money
and brought the little lion home when he was only a
few weeks old. They named him Christian.
|Tony and John dedicated themselves to giving Christian
the best life they could, and the bond that developed
between them is a joy to behold. Christian was a
remarkable lion, obviously very intelligent and
loving, and gentle to everyone, both human and animal.
|As he grew, Christian began to need bigger facilities
than Tony and John could provide. Thanks to a chance
meeting with Bill Travers (who had starred in the
movie Born Free), they hit upon the idea of sending
Christian to Africa to live as a wild lion.
||Bill Travers contacted George Adamson to set up the
project, and came up with the idea of making a
documentary movie of it all, to fund the project.
Christian is an absolute joy to watch in this movie.
The love he shows, his intelligence, his joie de vie, are beautiful. All the color pictures here are from the movie.
Video of Christian's love while still in England.
||The first step when Christian arrived at George's
compound, was to introduce him to Boy, a lion who had
been in the movie Born Free and who George had already
sent "back" to the wild, without losing his
relationship with him.
||Christian and Boy eventually became best friends, and
within a year Christian was living as a wild lion.
THE viral video: Reunion after one year apart!
Notice Christian's reaction at the beginning of this video. Sort of 'ohmigosh, what are you guys doing here!'
|When that year had passed, Tony and John came to
Africa to see Christian. After a year of struggle,
tragedies, and life with a pride of lions in the wild,
the relationship Christian felt with Tony and John was
as strong as it had always been. In fact, Christian's
wonderful relationship with Tony and John caused the
other lions in the pride to accept and be at peace
with them as well.
|A bridge existed, and it withstood the separation and
the learning of a new way to live. Christian was
another lion of two worlds. Ace and John saw Christian again, the last time was in 1974 when Christian was twice as large as he was in the movie, and had cubs of his own.
|Kimba's dream can happen. It has been proven on a
small scale. The question that eludes me is how to
enlarge the scale. How can a bridge be built that
encompasses all life?
|Today, Ace Bourke is a museum curator in Australia. John Rendall is a trustee of the George Adamson Wildlife Trust, an organization actively involved in preserving African wildlife. The organization, according to Rendall, is part of Christian's legacy. (For folks in the US, the site to go to is WildlifeNOW.com.)|
--Gareth Patterson, Last of the Free (1994)
Christian's story has been told in both and a movie and several books.
Click here to see what you can get.
|This page is a summary of Christian's story as told in the first edition of the book about him. The revised edition tells more.|
The video below shows Ace and John talking about Christian on the Today show on March 18, 2009.
This page first appeared in early 2002. Updated June 6, 2011.
B&W photos ©1971 Anthony Bourke & John Rendall.
Text on this page ©2002-2010 Craig Andersen.