Nearly 50 years ago, two Australians made headlines all over the globe when they met Christian the lion and changed his life forever.
John Rendall and Anthony “Ace” Bourke were walking around the department store Harrods in late 1969 when they came upon the lion. Back then, there was a zoo in Harrods, and the two men were drawn to Christian as soon as they saw him.
“In the center of it were these two beautiful, beautiful lion cubs,” John said. “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.”
The two Australians had only just arrived in London, but they made the decision to buy Christian. After convincing the zookeepers that they could take care of the lion, the men paid the equivalent of £3,500 ($4,617) in today’s money for him.
Believe it or not, John and Ace proceeded to live with Christian in a London apartment above a furniture shop.
“We realised that we were living with an incredibly complex, intelligent animal. He was very observant, always looking,” John said.
Christian became a celebrity of sorts as he lived on King’s Road at the heart of the ‘Swinging Sixties’ London scene. As he continued to grow, however, it became clear to John and Ace that they were going to have to find a proper home for him.
They contacted renowned expert in lion behavior, George Adamson, who agreed to try and release Christian into the wild in Kenya.
One year after releasing Christian into the wild, John and Ace decided to head back to Kenya to see how their pal was doing. Many thought that the two men were insane for wanting to find a (presumably now) wild animal.
After searching for him for some time, John and Ace finally spotted Christian in a remote Kora region over a hill in the distance. He had grown quite a bit and now had the beginnings of a magnificent mane.
“He starts walking very very slowly down towards us,” John said. “The body language was of curiosity – not attack. Eventually we couldn’t resist, and called him – and that’s when he took off.”
Thankfully, Christian was overjoyed to see them, and their reunion has melted the hearts of people all over the world! Check out the reunion in the video below!
Anyone who watches this clip will understand why lions need to be protected and allowed to live in freedom — they obviously have feelings and feel love, just like we humans do!
Please share this emotional reunion if you were also moved by it!