Men come to Africa to meet the lion they raised a long time ago, despite warnings
Christian was a majestic lion that has captivated people with his beautiful story for over four decades. After being raised by two men and then sent into the wilderness, Christian managed to melt hearts with his reaction after reuniting with his humans in a touching video.
The story of Christian begins in 1969, when John Rendall and Anthony "Ace" Bourke, two Australian tourists that were visiting London, stumbled upon two lion cubs at the Harrods department stores. Back then, it wasn’t unusual to have exotic animals, so after paying 250 guineas - about £3,500, they walked out of the store with a lion on a leash.
“He had a nature that was instantly attractive. You could see that he wasn't frightened, he wasn't distressed. He was just above it all. And that is very, very irresistible,” said Rendall to the BBC in 2011.
LIFE IN LONDON
Soon, the trio became inseparable while they forged a beautiful friendship. Christian lived in the basement below Sophistocat, the antique furniture store where Ace and John worked, and they lived on the apartment above. The store was located on the King’s Road in Chelsea, which was considered the heart of "Swinging London" in the ‘60s.
Movie stars, fashion designers and musicians lived in the neighborhood, and Christian became just as famous as some of them, roaming around the store and being a well behaved and companionable animal. In the afternoon, the men took Christina to an enclosed garden behind a church so he could play and run without scaring people.
However, Christian was beginning to grow in size, and keeping him in such an enclosed space proved to be difficult for the men. It was one fortuity encounter with Bill Travers and Virginia McKenna, stars of the film “Born Free.” Like everyone else, they were fascinated by Christian, so they suggested Rendall and Bourke call George Adamson, a Kenyan conservationist, and see what he could do for the lion.
LIFE IN KENYA
Adamson agreed to reintegrate Christian into the wild at his compound in the Kora National Reserve. The now 1-year-old lion was introduced to Boy, an adult lion that was used in the film “Born Free” and that was also going back into the natural habitat. A female pup was also introduced, creating a human-made pride for Christian.
Despite the hostility from the lions around the area, Christian was able to settle with his new herd, and soon he was roaming the vicinities of Kora as the head of the group.
In 1971, Rendall and Bourke wanted to visit their friend in his new habitat. People called them crazy, and warned them against it, alleging it was a dangerous move. Nevertheless, they decided to travel to Kenya, and with the help of Adamson, they were looking for Christian.
The result of their encounter was recorded for posterity in the documentary “Christian the Lion,” and is precisely the scene of the tear-inducing reunion that has gathered millions of views on YouTube over the years.
The footage shows how Christian spots Rendall and Bourke from above a hill and starts to approach slowly towards them. The men don’t seem distressed or nervous at all, there’s pure excitement in their faces as they were sure Christian would recognize them, and he did.
After moments of caution, Christian lunched forward, jumping on the man with his paw open, hugging them and showering them with affection that is returned by the pair. In the heat of the moment, the men forgot about the rest of the lions, but with Christian on the lead opening up to the strangers, there was no danger for them.
The now adult lion introduced his partner, Mona Lisa and their cub. And the group spent a lazy afternoon under the shadows of some rocks, getting to catch up on one year of life. Eventually, Rendall and Bourke had to leave, but now they were sure Christian was doing more than fine on his own.
Christian was last seen in 1973, heading over the direction of the Meru National Park. Since he was able to survive the most critical years of his reintegration to the wild, Rendall and Bourke liked o believe their friend had a bigger pride of lions and lived for other seven or eight years.
His progeny are probably still roaming around the are these days.
OTHER BIG CATS SHOW THEIR HUMAN SOME LOVE
Meanwhile, in a more recent heartwarming encounter between a human and her lions, a video that shows the moment two young lions welcomed the woman who hand-fed them has been melting hearts all over social media.
Touching scenes recorded at the gate of Malkia Zoo in Slovakia show the moment two young lions come rushing to a woman after recognizing her as their first owner and the woman who raised them. According to reports, the woman had adopted the lions when they were just cubs, but she later had to give them up to the zoon when they overpower her in size.
It's believed that is the first time she visited them in seven years but is clear they never forgot her.