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A Lion Called Christian by Anthony Bourke
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A Lion Called Christian (1971)

by Anthony Bourke, John Rendall

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
4762032,970 (3.83)16
  1. 00
    My Pride and Joy: An Autobiography by George Adamson (Sylak)
    Sylak: George talks some more about his time with Christian in his book.
  2. 00
    A Lion Called Christian (Documentary) by Director/productor : Jackie Osei-Tutu and Suemay Oram (Sylak)
  3. 00
    Born Wild: The Extraordinary Story of One Man's Passion for Lions and for Africa by Tony Fitzjohn (Sylak)
    Sylak: Tony joined George Adamson during Christian's introduction back to the wild, and continued his work after George's death.
  4. 00
    Born Free by Joy Adamson (Sylak)
    Sylak: If not for this book, and subsequent film, Bourke and Rendall would likely never have been introduced to George Adamson through Bill Travers and Virginia McKenna, and Christian's future may have been far less bright.
  5. 00
    Zamba: The True Story of the Greatest Lion That Ever Lived by Ralph Helfer (Sylak)
  6. 00
    The Tribe of Tiger by Elizabeth Marshall Thomas (Sylak)
  7. 00
    Christian the Lion by Anthony Bourke (Sylak)
    Sylak: This is the 'young readers' version of the book.
  8. 00
    The Wilderness Family: At Home with Africa's Wildlife by Kobie Kruger (Ella_Jill)
    Ella_Jill: This book also tells the story of a human-reared lion rehabilitated to the wild.
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» See also 16 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 20 (next | show all)
I read this book whilst similarly being charged with an infant wild animal in my care, not anything as dramatic as one of the big cats, but rather less exotic: a fledgling crow who was suffering malnutrition and had been abandoned by it's parents. It was pure chance that I began reading this book at around that time, and although quite different from Ace and John's situation in both the circumstances of the acquisition as well as scale of responsibility, I discovered in a small way quite a few similarities in our situations.
I too was surprised just how quickly and easily a young wild animal adapted to humans as it's carers. And without deliberately imposing to much anthropomorphism in to the equation, how easy it was to feel a bond growing between us that seemed to connect us on an emotional level (although my logical side reassures me that the birds excitement to see me in the morning was simply to be fed). I did however get to experience first hand just how intelligent these animals are and how quickly they learn. I can just imagine how impressed Ace and John must have been with Christian's progress as I was with Coal's.
If this book has been criticised for lacking in details on the challenges of caring for a wild animal in the rural setting of a basement in West London, I can only assume that it is because, contrary to popular perception, the actual task at hand was remarkably trouble free and dare I say unremarkable in daily routine, with few oddities beyond those mentioned in the book - as recalled by the authors on several occasions.
Finally, just like Ace and John discovered on their journey, I realised that I would require more expertise than first anticipated in order to return my animal successfully to the wild and sought out the skills of a proper wildlife hospital who, in much a similar way that George Adamson did with Christian, introduced Coal into a family group that he could form bonds with prior to release, rather than simply being set free alone into the local woodlands; where, even with hover support in the form of regular food drops, I was assured that he would have certainly perished falling victim to the other established wild groups already there.
I found many parallels in our two stories, and like with Christian, I will never know for sure if the release was a one hundred percent success. Once you let go of an animal and allow it to return to the wild the risk factor goes up as you relinquish your structured control over its life to the chaos and uncertainty of nature. The very human need for closure may never be fulfilled because most of the time, as with Katania's fate in the book, we can simply never know for sure. That is the difference between a Hollywood animal movie and a true life account.
This is a good book as well as a wake up call about attempting to interfere with nature even with the best of human intentions. Not that I don't support wildlife rescue in principle.

Reading this book also took me back to the 1970s, a different time and a very different London. For all it's faults and trappings it was a more relaxed environment to live in than the claustrophobic and soulless city of today. Sure, it wasn't perfect. It was a little more edgy to be sure, but it was also far more interesting. Each district retained it's own special pace and had local characters who had grown up in the same community who added colour and also layers of background history that created whole environments of London that had a way of life that was as individual as often walking into another world. That is what made promenading across
London and visiting different areas so worth while. Overdevelopment has destroyed a way of life that had existed for hundreds of years, and in it's place left many people feeling isolated and confused. Progress in the form of broad sweeping sudden changes like this are also destroying human environments and a whole intricate way of life that is being lost forever.
Just take a look at the many web sites and blogs where people are attempting to now connect through old photographs and sharing stories about their lost communities. It's just as sad.

Sophisto-Cat at 475 Kings Road, where Christian lived with Ace and John has long since disappeared. In fact, by the time Ace and John said their final farewell to Christian at Kampi ya Simba in 1972, the shop along with Christian's basement were very likely already demolished, along with the whole area he once knew; sitting under the new World's End Estate.

Regulations have since been put in place to prevent the open trafficking and private ownership of many exotics. But if you look closely at the state of our dwindling wildlife and the ecology of our planet in general it paints a bleak picture for the future.

The story of a Lion Called Christian is destined sooner or later to be made into a major feature film. The fact that it hasn't already is very surprising indeed. I just hope that when the day comes and contracts are drawn up, that a significant portion will be put into the GAWPT so that they may explore the possibilities of re-opening Kora National Park. ( )
  Sylak | Jun 17, 2018 |
Interesting book about the story of Christian the lion, who was purchased at Harrods (!) in London and eventually successfully introduced to wildlife and nature in Africa.

It's a quick and easy read, with amusing stories about raising a lion in a busy city and his eventual introduction to his native habitat. ( )
1 vote acciolibros | Feb 11, 2018 |
The subtitle for this book really says it all. It is a true story and there was a remarkable bond between the humans and the lion.

As I read it I felt transported back to the free-spirited way of life that we enjoyed in the 1960's. It's unlikely that this story would be repeated now. People can't just walk into a store (even one as all-encompassing as Harrod's) and buy a lion cub. And it's certainly doubtful that even if one happened to have a lion cub to raise that city officials and animal rights activists and all sorts of bureaucrats would allow it to be done in a store in the middle of London. That's probably a good thing for the animals involved but it does mean that these types of stories are much fewer than previously. ( )
1 vote gypsysmom | Aug 9, 2017 |
Nice (true) story about 2 guys that bought a lion cub from Harrod's in London, reintroduced to Africa. Loved the pix. ( )
  JeanetteSkwor | Jun 29, 2017 |
Wonderful, wonderful book. Make sure you see the video of their meeting. ( )
  ShelleyAlberta | Jun 4, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 20 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Anthony Bourkeprimary authorall editionscalculated
Rendall, Johnmain authorall editionsconfirmed
Adamson, GeorgeForewordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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To Christian and our families who never met him
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No zoo is complete without lions.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0767932307, Hardcover)

Book Description
In 2008 an extraordinary two-minute film clip appeared on YouTube and immediately became an international phenomenon. It captures the moving reunion of two young men and their pet lion Christian, after they had left him in Africa with Born Free’s George Adamson to introduce him into his rightful home in the wild.

A Lion Called Christian tells the remarkable story of how Anthony “Ace” Bourke and John Rendall, visitors to London from Australia in 1969, bought the boisterous lion cub in the pet department of Harrods. For several months, the three of them shared a flat above a furniture shop on London’s King’s Road, where the charismatic and intelligent Christian quickly became a local celebrity, cruising the streets in the back of a Bentley, popping in for lunch at a local restaurant, even posing for a fashion advertisement. But the lion cub was growing up--fast--and soon even the walled church garden where he went for exercise wasn’t large enough for him. How could Ace and John avoid having to send Christian to a zoo for the rest of his life? A coincidental meeting with English actors Virginia McKenna and Bill Travers, stars of the hit film Born Free, led to Christian being flown to Kenya and placed under the expert care of “the father of lions” George Adamson. Incredibly, when Ace and John returned to Kenya to see Christian a year later, they received a loving welcome from their lion, who was by then fully integrated into Africa and a life with other lions.

Originally published in 1971, and now fully revised and updated with more than 50 photographs of Christian from cuddly cub in London to magnificent lion in Africa, A Lion Called Christian is a touching and uplifting true story of an indelible human-animal bond. It is destined to become one of the great classics of animal literature.

A Look Inside A Lion Called Christian

Click on thumbnails for larger images

Christian with Mark at Todd's Hairdressers in the World's End Football in the Moravian Close John, Christian, and Ace relaxing at Leith Hill

Easter, 1970 Ace (left) and John (right) with Christian on The King's Road, Chelsea





(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:20:22 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

A wondrous, serendipitous tale that tracks Christian's migration from London streets to Kenyan wilderness and the new friends, both lion and human (notably lion expert George Adamson of Born Free fame) that he finds there. Most astonishing, however, is that in 1971, after a year's absence, his old friends Bourke and Rendall returned to Africa and successfully reunited with Christian.… (more)

» see all 5 descriptions

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