Just under 50 years ago, two young Australians made headlines when they famously (and dangerously) shared an encounter with a lion in the African bush. If you haven’t heard of Christian the lion, fear not, we’re going to tell you an epic tale!
John Rendall and Anthony “Ace” Bourke first met in a shop in London when they came across a young lion. Back in late 1969, there was a zoo in the upmarket department store, Harrods.
“In the center of it were these two beautiful, beautiful lion cubs,” John told the BBC. He was immediately drawn to the male lion.
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.
Though the two Australians had just arrived in Lonon, they knew immediately they wanted to buy Christian the lion. They managed to convince the staff at Harrods that they would be good owners of the lion.
The two men paid the equivalent of £3,500 ($4,617) in today’s money. Casually, the two men put the lion on a lead and walked him out of the store.
Lions are very social creatures and if they can’t find companionship with other lions, they seek friendships in humans. The 2 men and their new lion pal all lived together in their London flat above a furniture shop.
We realised that we were living with an incredibly complex, intelligent animal. He was very observant, always looking.
Christian the lion lived on King’s Road at the heart of the ‘Swinging Sixties’ London scene. Fashion designers, rock stars and celebrities all lived around that area. And, of course, Christian became somewhat of a celebrity himself.
Of course, Christian the lion was growing very fast and they needed to find him a proper home
Ace and John met with a renowned expert in lion behavior, George Adamson, who agreed to try and release Christian into the wild in Kenya.
But 1 year later, Ace Bourke and John Rendall decided to go check up on their old friend to see how he was adapting to the wilderness.
This was risky and many people thought the two men were crazy for wanting to find a (presumably now) wild animal.
After much searching, the two men managed to spot Christian in the remote Kora region over a hill in the distance. Christian the lion now had the beginnings of a magnificent mane and was very large.
He starts walking very very slowly down towards us. The body language was of curiosity – not attack. Eventually we couldn’t resist, and called him – and that’s when he took off.
The mighty animal started bounding towards the two men. Would he attack, did he recognize them?
Thankfully, Christian did and their reunion is somewhat of an internet legend. You may need to get your tissues ready. We don’t think we’ve ever seen a reunion quite like this!
Don’t forget to watch this heartwarming reunion of Christian the lion and his humans in the video below. Also, at Happiest we love hearing all of your opinions. So please let us know what you thought of the article in the comment section. 🐝