Christian was a lion purchased in 1969 by two Australians living in London, John Rendall and Anthony ‘Ace’ Bourke (sometimes erroneously cited as Ace Berg) from Harrods department store. They had discovered him for sale in Harrods’ exotic pets department and, concerned for his conditions and fate, decided to buy him.
Rendall, Bourke and their girlfriends Jennifer Mary and Unity Jones cared for the lion until it was a year old. Christian’s increasing size and the cost of looking after him led them to the realization that they could not keep him in London for much longer. The solution came when Bill Travers and Virginia McKenna, stars of the film Born Free, visited Rendall and Bourke’s furniture shop, where Christian spent his days. They suggested that they ask the assistance of George Adamson, the Kenyan conservationist who, together with his wife Joy, was the subject of their movie. Adamson agreed to help them rehabilitate Christian into the wild at his compound at Kora National Reserve.
Adamson slowly introduced Christian to an older lion ‘Boy’ and subsequently to a female cub in order to form the nucleus of a new pride. This approach was successful and over the course of several years the pride established itself in the region around Kora.
When Rendall and Bourke were informed by Adamson of the successful result in 1971, they traveled to Kenya to pay one last visit to Christian in order to say goodbye. Adamson warned them that it would most likely be a wasted trip as he had not seen Christian’s pride for nine months. However they discovered when they reached Kora that Christian and his pride had returned to Adamson’s compound the day before their arrival.
The film currently on Youtube took place in 1972, not 1974 like the video says. A final reunion did take place in 1974 similar to the one filmed in 1972. After 1974, George Adamson lost track of Christian and assumed that he lived out his life in the Meru Reserve. This information comes from one of Adamson’s books.
According to Rendall, “We called him and he stood up and started to walk towards us very slowly. Then, as if he had become convinced it was us, he ran towards us, threw himself on to us, knocked us over, knocked George over and hugged us, like he used to, with his paws on our shoulders.”
The reunion lasted until the next morning when everyone went to bed. According to Rendall that was the last anyone saw of Christian. This is only a fact after the 1974 meeting. The meeting shown in the YouTube viral video took place in 1972.
Watch their unbelievable story.