Monday, October 17, 2011

"Christian The Lion, an Amazing Story"
written and recorded by John Robinson



In 1969, Ace Bourke and John Rendall, two young men and good friends from Australia arrived in London, England. They visited Harrods Department store which at the time were selling exotic animals such as snakes, monkeys, and birds. In one cage, Ace and John saw a baby male lion. The baby lion was not much bigger than a house cat. The department store wanted to sell the baby lion because it had escaped from its cage the previous night and destroyed a lot of merchandise in the store. The young men decided to purchase the lion and keep him as a pet. It was a very unusual thing to do. They named the lion “Christian”. The lion got its name from the fact that during the Roman Empire, Christians were fed to hungry lions as an entertainment in the Roman Colosseum. Christian was a very friendly and good natured little lion. However, John and Ace didn’t know anything about raising lions. They had to rely on their experience with different pets they had when they lived in Australia.

They lived in an apartment above “Sophistocrat” an antique pine furniture shop where they both worked. With the owner’s permission, they were able to keep the young lion, Christian, in the basement below the furniture store. Every afternoon, Ace and John took Christian to an enclosed church garden for exercise. Christian loved to play and so did John and Ace. They became very close. By this time, Christian was 35 pounds, about the size of a small dog. He continued to grow. Christian especially enjoyed playing at the seaside.

In a few months, he grew to weigh 185 pounds. Now, he was too large for his environment and he was beginning to frighten some of the customers at the furniture store. Fortunately, Bill Travers and Virginia McKenna came to the store to shop for furniture. Bill and Virginia were actors. They had starred as George and Joy Adamson in the film “Born Free” about a lioness named Elsa. The film is the story of a lioness raised by the Adamsons and then returned to the wilderness of Africa. The film was based on the book “Born Free.” Both the book and the film were very successful. Bill and Virginia suggested contacting George Adamson. They thought it was possible to return Christian to the African wild, just like Elsa.


Since Christian was almost one year old and growing stronger and larger every day, Ace and John decided to take him to Africa to meet George Adamson. Adamson was a lion expert. He had a lot of experience with lions, especially helping lions not born in wild Africa to adapt to wilderness conditions. There were a lot of dangers and things that could go wrong. Adamson knew the dangers and how to avoid them. He met Christian and saw that the young lion was very strong, adaptable, and brave. He thought he could build a pride of lions with Christian as the pride leader. The wilderness was selected by the Kenyan Government. It was a site called Kora in north-east Kenya. This area was chosen because it was far from local villagers, hunters, and tourists. It was therefore the best location for a young pride to get started. In 1970, Adamson began preparing Christian to enter a natural life in the wild.

It would be challenging. Christian would have to survive in a difficult environment. He would have to learn to hunt for his own food. Wild male lions, always competing for females, would try to drive away any strange male lions. Christian had good instincts and was very strong, but he was young and had no experience of the wild. It would be a very difficult first year for him.

One year passed. Christian was on his own, now learning to be a wild lion. He had been gone from George’s camp for longer and longer periods. Now, Ace and John wanted to see how he was doing. When they arrived at George’s camp, George said he didn’t know where Christian was. They would have to go looking for him. They were both somewhat nervous. How would Christian react when he saw them? Would he remember them? Lions could be very dangerous. Would Ace and John have anything to fear from their old friend? Would Christian turn on them and attempt to harm them?

After a long search, Ace, John, and George came to a very remote place in the Kora region of Kenya. Christian suddenly appeared on the top of a rocky hill. He was much larger now, with a fully developed mane. He started walking slowly towards the two men, his former friends. He didn’t appear to be attacking, just curious. Ace and John were so excited to see Christian that they forgot about the fact that a grown, wild lion was approaching them. They smiled warmly at their former pet, and they called his name, “Christian.”

Then, Christian suddenly began to run joyfully towards his friends. He did recognize them! He placed both his paws on their shoulders, nuzzled them, hugged them, and played. He even introduced them to his mate, a young lioness. This whole wonderful event was captured on video. The video is available on Youtube. It’s called “The Reunion.” It has been seen by millions of people all over the world. This amazing story, with the Youtube video has inspired people world-wide to think more deeply about environmental issues and about the welfare of wild animals.

Christian was last seen in early 1973, heading in the direction of the larger and more remote Meru National Park. He had survived the most dangerous early years and had grown very big and was intelligent and brave, Ace and John realized that Christian had his own pride of lions and lived possibly another seven or eight years. Some lions living there now are probably his descendants. They are the relatives of a lion raised in a basement under a furniture store in London, England.

COMPREHENSION CHECK
1. Ace Bourke and John Rendell ____________ .
a: didn’t know much about raising lions.
b: were experts in training lions.
c: had never had pets in Australia
d: had some experience with wild lions in Africa

2. The “Reunion” between John, Ace, and wild Christian took place ____
a: in London, England.
b: in Meru National Park, Kenya
c: in 1971
d: in 1969

3. Ace and John ________________ .
a: found Christian living wild in a park in London
b: purchased Christian from Harrods Department store
c: bought Christian from the London Zoo
d: adopted Christian from a wildlife area of Africa

4. When Christian grew to be much larger, _____________ .
a: Ace and John had to move to a larger apartment
b: Ace and John had to quit their jobs
c: Ace and John decided Christian could no longer live in London
d: Ace and John decided to sell Christian to a zoo

5. George Adamson _______________ .
a: was an actor in a famous movie called “Born Free”
b: specialized in returning domesticated lions to the wild
c: made films for television and Youtube
d: sold baby lions to Harrods Department store in London, England

6. One difficulty that Christian didn’t have returning to the wild of Kenya was ______ .
a: surviving in spite of his inexperience
b: mating with a female lion
c: killing prey in order to survive
d: keeping in touch with Ace and John

7. An area called Kora in North-east Kenya was chosen for Christian’s new home
because __________________ .
a: it was close to George’s camp in case Christian got in trouble
b: it was near a village so that Christian would have a source of food
c: it was full of wild male lions so that Christian could test his fighting skills
d: it was far from tourists, villages, and not used by hunters

8. Before their reunion with Christian, Ace and John felt __________ .
a: a little apprehensive
b: joy and excitement
c: exhausted from the long search for him
d: hungry for good meat they hoped Christian would provide for them

9. Another name for this selection could be _______________ .
a: “A Young Lion Born to be Wild”
b: “The Leader of a Pride of Lions in East Africa”
c: “Two Australians and Their Exotic Pet”
d: “The Technique for Re-introducing Cats Into the Wild”

10. This selection is mainly about ____________ .
a: Ace Bourke and John Rendall’s African adventure
b: George Adamson, an expert with lions
c: Christian’s life in London and in Africa
d: Christian’s early life in London, England

Now, here is the amazing filming of the reunion between Christian and his friends, Ace and John.


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