Debunking email hoaxes and exposing Internet scams since 2003!

Hoax-Slayer Logo Hoax-Slayer Logo

Home    About    New Articles    RSS Feed    eBook    Contact
Bookmark and Share

Christian the Lion Email

Email, with an attached photograph and video, tells the story of a lion that still remembered the two young men who raised it to maturity a year after it was released in an African wildlife sanctuary (Full commentary below).


Example:(Submitted, February 2008)
Subject: Fw: True Love never first!

There's no sound, but look at the picture first and then watch the video

These two guys reared this lion from a baby in England but the authorities would not allow them to keep it once it reached maturity so they were forced to give it up, they took it back to Africa and placed it in a wildlife sanctuary, a year later they went to see it and were told it would not remember them, true love never dies, how gorgeous.

Baby Lion

This message tells the story of a lion cub that was raised by two men in England and then relocated to an African wildlife sanctuary when it grew too big to keep at home. According to the message and accompanying video clip, when the men visited the wildlife sanctuary a year later, the lion recognized them and approached to greet and play with them.

The story is true although the events described happened many years ago in the late 60's and early 70's. Two young men, Anthony Bourke and John Rendall bought the lion cub from the Harrods department store, London, in 1969. They called the cub Christian. Christian's parents were zoo lions, so he was born in captivity.

In that somewhat simpler age, people could apparently buy exotic animals from department stores as well as keep them in normal human habitats without council or government restrictions. For a year, Christian lived the high life at a furniture shop on the swinging King's Road in Chelsea. This urban cool cat cruised the streets in the back of a Bentley, attended lunches at a local restaurant and played football with his human companions in a nearby churchyard.

But, as Christian grew to adulthood, Anthony and John realized that his urban environment would not remain suitable for much longer. An article about Christian in the UK's Daily Mail notes:
He grew and grew - from 35lb when he first arrived to a rather more serious and imposing 185lb a year later - and he was beginning to acquire a mane that made him look more fearsome.

He clearly could not stay with his two young owners for ever.

His future was decided by a chance encounter - when the actors Bill Travers and Virginia McKenna walked into the shop to buy a pine desk.

They had recently starred in the film Born Free, which tells the true story of the wildlife conservationist George Adamson and his wife Joy, who raised a lion cub called Elsa in Kenya then rehabilitated it into the wild.

And they immediately suggested that Adamson might be able to help.

Certainly, the conservationist was intrigued by the challenge of introducing a King's Road lion to the wilds of Africa.
In 1970, Christian was taken to Africa and eventually released on the Kora Reserve in Kenya with two other lions, Boy and Katania. Boy later died, but Christian and Katania gradually adapted to life in the wild. In later years, Anthony Bourke and John Rendall re-visited Kora and were reunited with their feline companion. The Lion at World's End, a documentary film about Christian, was released in 1971 as a companion to the book "A Lion Called Christian" by Anthony Bourke and John Rendall. The film was also known as "Christian the Lion" and "The Lion That Thought He Was People". The movie clip that accompanies the email message is probably taken from this film.

According to the Daily Mail article, the men visited for the last time in 1974. Even though by that time Christian was living as a wild lion, he still recognized them and approached. The trio romped and played together for some time before Christian returned to his pride.

Christian, the lion who lived in my London living room
The Lion at World's End
George Adamson Information and Photos
Christian The Lion - A True Story

Last updated: 18th February 2008
First published: 18th February 2008

Write-up by Brett M. Christensen