Christian The Lion: The Illustrated Legacy
Unforgettable true story of Christian, the lion bought at Harrods by John Rendall and Ace Bourke, raised in Fulham, and released into the wild in Kenya. The touching reunion clip in Africa was a YouTube sensation. Features an update on Christian’s legacy, George Adamson’s death and never-before-seen photographs by Derek Cattani.
Published: 18th Oct 2018
About this book
The story that captured the imagination of the world…
In 1969 Harrods department store in London sold a three month old lion cub to two young Australians, John Rendall and Anthony (Ace) Bourke. They called him Christian. For a year Christian lived happily and safely with John and Ace and his human ‘pride’, initially in the World’s End on the King’s Road in Chelsea, where Derek Cattani first began photographing him.
When Christian outgrew his London environment he was entrusted to the care of George Adamson in Kenya, who with his wife Joy, had successfully rehabilitated their lioness Elsa, the subject of Joy’s Book Born Free.
A year after Christian had been living in the wild John and Ace returned to Kenya to try and find him. The film clip of their emotional reunion has now been viewed by over 100 million people on YouTube.
In 1973 Christian disappeared into the wild forever. George Adamson had uniquely rehabilitated a 5th generation zoo-bred lion.
John and Ace’s first book about Christian was a million seller in the 1970s, and enjoyed a huge resurgence of interest after their YouTube clip went viral in 2006. This brand new book from Bradt, collects Derek Cattani’s never-before-seen pictures of Christian and updates the story to the present day, including the story of their YouTube sensation and a chapter on the murder of George Adamson.
When John and Ace took Christian to Kenya in 1970 there were an estimated 300,00 lions in Africa. Today there are fewer than 25,000.
About the Author
Australian-born John Rendall first came to London in the late 1960s and it was there that with his friend Anthony (Ace) Bourke he first came across Christian, at that time a young cub lying in a cage in Harrods department store. After protracted negotiations they bought Christian and raised him in Sophistocat pine furniture shop in the World’s End in Chelsea. Christian’s life in London was subsequently the subject of the Television documentary The Lion at World’s End and of a book written by Ace and John, A Lion Called Christian, which told the story of Christian’s successful rehabilitation back into the wild by George Adamson.
For the next 18 years John and George stayed in regular contact and when George was murdered in 1989 George’s Assistant Tony Fitzjohn founded the George Adamson Wildlife Preservation Trust and John became a trustee. Today John remains an active fund-raiser for the trust which administers the Mkomazi National Park in Tanzania. John lectures at schools and leads safaris to Kenya, visiting Meru National Park, where George and Joy Adamson’s lioness Elsa was rehabilitated, and Kora National Park, where Christian was rehabilitated.
Christian’s ‘legacy’ is the continued interest in his unique life: the first English-born lion to be successfully rehabilitated, and the inspiration for the George Adamson Wildlife Preservation Trust.
Derek Cattani is an international award-winning photographer, whose career spans some four decades on assignment for many top magazines and Fleet Street newspapers including the Daily Mail and The Sunday Times. The highlight of his early career was meeting and photographing Christian, an amazing lion cub in London, and going with him and his owners to Africa. After a gentle process of introduction, Derek was able to capture all manner of images of Christian, from sitting in an open top car in Chelsea to football sessions in a high-walled garden, culminating in Christian’s final adventures when he was taken back to Africa to be rehabilitated back into the wild with George Adamson, at that time the world’s leading expert on lions. Derek has continued to be involved to the present day with the George Adamson Wildlife Preservation Trust.
Derek’s photographs capture the early days in London and Africa with a sincere passion and convey the fun of watching Christian and the love of seeing a lion back in Africa.