the True Story of the Remarkable Bond Between Two Friends and a Lion
by Antony Bourke and John Rendall
I first heard about Christian the lion when Jenny mentioned the YouTube video to me (in a comment), which I hadn't seen before. When I found the book at the public library, I snatched it up right away, and read through it avidly. A Lion Called Christian is the story of two Australian men visiting London who bought a lion cub from a department store (which professed to sell everything; at the time wild animal sales were not yet illegal). The young lion, whom they named Christian, had been born in a zoo in England. He was raised by Bourke and Rendall in an upscale furniture shop in London (where he was quite the local celebrity) until he grew too large. It became difficult to find room to exercise him and even though he was quite gentle, some customers were too frightened by his appearance in the window to enter the shop! Luckily, two actors who had been involved in the filming of Born Free visited the shop one day, were introduced to Christian the lion, and told the men about a project George Adamson was doing to rehabilitate lions in Africa and release them into the wild. Determined to give Christian the best life possible, not willing to stick him in a zoo or the entertainment business, they flew Christian to Africa (at great expense) and there for the first time in his life he was introduced to other lions and allowed to roam free. Eventually, although there were some bumps in the road, Christian learned to hunt and fend for himself, and wandered off into the bush to make his own life as a free lion. When Bourke and Rendall revisited the area a year after leaving Christian in Adamson's care, they were met with a huge affectionate welcome, which has become the video sensation. Two documentaries have been made of Christian's life in London, his reintroduction into the wild, and Adamson's work with lions. I'm eager to see them someday as well.
Rating: 3/5 ........ 226 pages, 1971