The story of the lion Christian is a surprising story about the endearing love that can develop between humans and other animals. It is a true story, which has been documented, and which raises a number of questions that are still unresolved.
It all started in London in 1969. A couple of young Australians named John Rendall and Anthony “Ace” Bourke went shopping at Harrods. To their surprise, they saw a lion cub for sale. He was only a little one and the owner wanted to get rid of him because he had broken his merchandise the night before.
The boys bought the lion and took him to their house. Together with some friends they started raising him and noticed that he was very sociable and sweet. When the cub turned one year old, it was no longer possible to keep him in the house. They then decided to take him to a furniture store they owned and strangely called “Sophistocat”.
The sad farewell of the lion Christian
Neither Rendall nor Bourke ever thought their boyfriend would grow so fast. In a short time it was impossible to keep him in the furniture store. He didn’t fit anywhere and unconsciously caused a lot of destruction everywhere. So they went to a friend who was a priest and asked him to let Christian stay in the parish cemetery. The priest agreed.
The lion Christian continued to grow. He was already an adult and ate a lot. Maintaining his diet cost a fortune. They began to understand that it would soon become impossible for him to live in London. After all, he was an animal. What if he got dangerous? He was always very friendly, but you never knew…
Two film actors visited Christian and suggested giving him away to George Adamson, a famous Kenyan conservationist. He made sure that he would return to his natural habitat and live like a real lion. The boys agreed, but not without sadness. It was the best for everyone.
Christian returns to the jungle
The youth agreed to take Christian to Kenya’s Kora National Park. It was the ideal place for him to start a new life. His conservationist friend reunited him with another older male lion, whom everyone called Boy. He also added a lioness to form a new group. Little by little the animals distanced themselves from the people, until one day they did not return.
A year later, Rendall and Bourke took the initiative to visit their friend Christian the lion. It was a bit of a crazy idea. He was already back in his natural habitat and now behaved like a regular lion. Anyway, they wanted to at least see him, to know he was okay. The conservationist warned them. They had to be very careful. Christian could attack them.
The young men went to the edge of Kora and paused. Then they started calling Christian, but he didn’t show up right away. At last a lion was seen looking carefully through the rocks. The boys kept calling him. The lion reacted quickly and ran downstairs to meet his old friends. Against all odds, he remembered perfectly who they were. He threw himself on top of them, hugged them and licked their faces. All this was recorded on video.
A story without answers
A year later, something extraordinary happened. After the last encounter , the lion Christian returned to the jungle. They could see that he had become king of a pack of lions. He disappeared from one moment to the next. Nothing has been heard from him in more than nine months. His human friends wanted to visit him at least one more time.
Not knowing how or why, Christian returned a day before the arrival of the boys to roam the places around Kora. The same scene from the first encounter was repeated the next day. The lion looked at them carefully at first, then hurried toward them, as if it were the same cub they’d raised. The only difference is that he was already twice as big as the last time they’d seen him.
The story of the lion Christian and his human friends became a documentary that contains real images. They also wrote a novel based on his story and numerous articles have appeared in various newspapers and magazines around the world. There are still no definitive explanations for this endearing and wonderful relationship between a “beast” and a couple of guys who decided to give their love and, more importantly, understand his future needs.