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Before Cecil The Lion, There Was Christian The Lion. This Story Had A Good Ending

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According to A Lion Called Christian website, Christian was born in the Ilfracombe Zoo, Devon, UK on August 12, 1969.  Shortly after birth, his mother, named Mary, rejected him. He was then sold to Harrods department store in London.

John Rendall and Ace Bourke spotted Christian at the famous department store. They were shocked to see a lion cub in a small cage and right there they decided to buy him.  During that time, owning an exotic animal was legal.  Despite no formal training in handling exotic animals, the pair learned everything they could about raising a lion cub and gave him all the care and attention he needed.

Christian lived in a large basement of Sophistocat, where Ace and John worked.
He became a special attraction at the store. He was so friendly and loved to give hugs.
Christian eventually grew bigger and bigger and keeping him became more expensive and difficult.

One day, Bill Travers and Virginia McKenna visited their shop and met Christian. Bill and Virginia were actors in the 1964 Born Free film. The film was about returning the lioness Elsa to the wild. They advised John and Ace that the best option for Christian was to give him the opportunity to live in the wild.

After a year, John and Ace decided to bring him back into the wild plains of Kenya with the help of conservationist George Adamson.

In 1971, they visited Christian and the moment turned very memorable.  Watch the video to see how Christian reacted to seeing John and Ace after not being with them for a year.  Watch how the other lions in the pride treated Christian’s friends.

Christian successfully adapted the wild and had cubs of his own.
He was last seen in 1974 heading to Meru National Park.  It is widely believed that Christian lived the rest of his life in the wild.

Here's the video: 

photo & video: YouTube/Born Free Foundation
Sources: A Lion Called Christian    |    Born Free Foundation   |   The Guardian