Men come to Africa to meet the lion they raised few years ago, despite warnings
Australian expats John Rendall and Anthony "Ace" Bourke came back to Africa to visit the lion they brought home years ago.
The lion named Christian has gained popularity after the video of the reunion with his heroes become a worldwide hit on YouTube, as reported by The Sydney Morning Herald.
The story of Cristian and the two men who one day got him started in 1969. At that time London was the perfect destination for some Australians, and among them, were Rendall and Bourke.
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"We met Christian in the Harrods zoo [pet shop]. The zoo was beside the rug department and I remember he got out one night and ate several goatskin rugs," Rendall said.
He added, "My first feeling on seeing him was of being astounded, really: he was just so beautiful. It just seemed like such an adventure to buy him [at a cost of 250 guineas]."
Cristian's maintenance and care turned out to be more complex as he grew. A year later, Rendall and Bourke transferred the lion to a furniture store.
At that point, the two got authorization from a priest to let Christian run in the church's burial ground.
But the circumstance was getting increasingly complicated and the expense of keeping up a lion likewise expanded. Rendall and Bourke then realized that they couldn't have Christian for any longer in London.
The solution came with a visit to the furniture store of the stars of the film "Born Free," Bill Travers and Virginia McKenna. It was them who recommended Rendall and Bourke to request assistance from George Adamson, a Kenyan progressive.
They did as such and Adamson, alongside his better half, consented to reintegrate Christian into the natural habitat at his compound in the Kora National Reserve.
The errand was difficult. Cristian was acquainted with the natural environment with another lion that was used in the motion picture "Born Free." Adamson later included a female pup with the goal of making a herd.
After a year and after many requests, work and effort contributed, Adamson managed to get the herd settled in the region of Kora with Cristian at the head.
In 1971, Rendall and Bourke discovered that Cristian had finally managed to live in a natural habitat, free and cheerful.
At that point, they chose to make a trip to Kenya to visit the animal that, for an entire year, was their incredible companion. That was the moment the documentary "Christian, the lion" was filmed.
The documentary tells how Adamson firmly believes that it is impossible for Cristian to recall his previous owners, who once looked after him.
But, as you can see in the video, when Cristian shows up on the screen, there are a few moments of caution, and after two or three seconds the lion rushes on Rendall and Bourke so delighted to see them again, as though it were a little cat.
"That day we went back to see him, people who watch it on YouTube expect that we were frightened. But we had such a strong bond with him, there was no fear," Bourke said.
He added. "If anything, our fear was that he would ignore us! I remember he was staring at us, and then we called. And we could tell; he was making his excited little happy grunts. I do remember thinking how huge he was, would we be able to hold him? But we knew he was happy to see us."
"Looking back, certainly, it was one of the happy moments of my life - an extraordinary time in both our lives," Bourke continued.
Christian's story helps us to remember a lioness who had not seen her owner for a long time, and was overjoyed when her gates opened so she could give him big hugs and tons of kisses.
Watch their heartwarming reunion in the video below: