Christian the lion

Yesterday I stumbled across the obituary of John Rendall who died this week of covid, aged 77. The story caught my eye because he and his flatmate bought a lion cub (Christian) from Harrods in the 1960s. I was expecting to read some awful case of animal torture but it turned out to be the complete opposite. He and his flatmate ended up taking their pet lion from London all the way to Kenya and releasing him. A year later they went back to visit and this is a clip of their reunion. It made me cry. I challenge you to watch it and keep your eyes dry.

This is the full documentary on YouTube but if you only want to see the reunion it’s in the first few seconds. It’s quite amazing. John and Anthony did their very best for Christian and John went on to become a conservationist. I’m glad Harrods is no longer selling lions as pets.

I do wonder whether Christian would have been happier in a big sanctuary in England with John and Anthony nearby. He clearly loved them. I don’t think such places existed back then but I know from our own cat Victoria, who is really just a miniature lion, how much she likes her home comforts. She has the freedom to venture off anytime she wants but she rarely does and prefers the indoors. It must have been hard to start life in London in captivity to then have to survive in the wilds of Africa. Not that I don’t think it was the right thing for them to do. It was certainly preferable to sending him to a circus or a cage as would have happened back then.

One response to “Christian the lion”

  1. The concept of animals just being here for the use and entertainment by humans has been a hard attitude to change. We slaughter animals in their billions each year, yet if an animal kills a human all hell breaks loose. It’s heartwarming to see people who have an awareness that animals have the same consciousness as humans (although they don’t analyse their experiences or emotions like humans do), and consider them worthy of respect , not just to be used. Whether or not John and Anthony did the best thing for Christian is hard to know, but at least their moral compass was pointing in the right direction.

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