Subject Material

A Love Story - Christian the Lion

Published: 20.09.2010
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This is a true story about eternal love between a lion and two humans. Read about what happened and watch the video linked below.

Easy Version of Text

This is a story about a love relationship between two young Australians and a lion, which was named Christian. It all started in 1969 when London was very lively and had a good economy. That is why London was given the name of the “Swinging City”.

 

Harrods, a big department store in London, promised that they could supply anything their customers wanted. The store even offered exotic animals. Rendall and Berg, the two Australians, were looking for a camel. Instead they bought a lion cub. They brought him home to their apartment in Chelsea, London, and Christian rode their car, walked in the parks and even had some of his meals at restaurants. His owners described him as loving and affectionate. However, Christian had to be served 4 meals a day and he grew bigger and bigger.

 

Rendall and Berg had to look for another place that Christian could live and they found “The Lion Man”, John Adamson, who worked at a reserve in Kenya rehabilitating lions into the wild. He was not too optimistic, since Christian had been born in a zoo in England and was not used to the wild in Africa. However, three years later Rendall and Berg got a letter from the Lion Man. He told them that he had succeeded and that Christian had been accepted by the wild lions. Rendall and Berg wrote back to the Lion Man asking if they could say their last goodbye. However, “The Lion Man” said that Christian had not been seen for 9 months.

 

The two guys went to Kenya anyway, and they were lucky. Christian had turned up the day before their arrival with two lionesses and many cubs. He recognised them and was wild with joy. They had a great reunion party, before he returned to his “family”. The next morning the lions had disappeared into the wild. They were never seen again.

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The story about Christian the lion takes us to London forty years ago. At that time, London was known as the “Swinging City”, meaning that it was a lively and youthful city. English bands like The Beatles and The Rolling Stones brought pop and rock to eager teenagers on all continents and the English economy was booming. This made Harrods, a fashionable department store in London, boast that they could provide anything on request, and customers availed themselves of the opportunity to do just that. The second floor in the store even included a department for exotic animals. This boast eventually led two young Australian men, John Rendall and Ace Berg, to the store, originally looking for a camel. However, a cute little lion made them change their minds. The price tag said 250 guineas (about £262).

“The Lion Man” to Their Rescue

“The Lion Man”, John Adamson in Kenya came to their rescue. The two guys left the store with a lion on a leash. In this way, Christian the Lion became a resident in Chelsea, London, along with the two Aussies. For one year Christian cruised the streets in the back of a car, he took a stroll in Hyde Park or he had a bite to eat at local restaurants. His companions described him as loving and affectionate. However, the pet had to be served four meals a day and eventually became too big. “The Lion Man”, John Adamson in Kenya came to their rescue. He had raised Elsa, a lion cub, and rehabilitated her into the wild. Now, he would try to do the same with Christian, but he doubted whether he would succeed. After all, Elsa had been born and bred in Africa, while Christian was born in captivity in Britain.

One Last Goodbye. . .

Nevertheless, Rendall and Berg handed Christian over to the Lion Man at a camp in the Kora reserve. Three years later, John Adamson stated in a letter that he thought he had succeeded and that Christian had been accepted by his wild mates. Rendall and Berg wrote back and asked if they could say one last goodbye, whereupon Adamson answered that this would be a waste of time, since they had not seen Christian for the last nine months. They decided to go anyway and they did not regret it. The night before they arrived, Christian had returned to the camp with two lionesses and a bunch of cubs. In the video clip the last scenes will reveal what happened when they met again. It was a great reunion party, but duty was calling, and eventually Christian had to go back to his extended family. In the morning he had disappeared into the wild, never to be seen again.

Watch the film clip on this site: http://www.bornfree.org.uk/campaigns/big-cats/about/christian-the-lion/ . It contains scenes from Christian’s childhood year in London, his relocation to Kenya and in the last scenes you can see what happens when they are reunited after three years.

Comprehension questions

Do the multiple choice questions to the right.


Oral

Retell the story in your own words. Include these key words:
Write down the words so that you can cross them out as you use them.

  • Rendall and Berg
  • Harrods
  • Christian
  • lion
  • cub
  • parks
  • car
  • restaurant
  • meals
  • big
  • Kenya
  • reserve
  • the Lion Man
  • rehabilitating
  • goodbye
  • nine months
  • lionesses
  • reunion
  • disappear


Discussion

  1. Should wild animals and reptiles be kept as pets? Explain your views.
  2. Arrange a debate. Half the class argue in favour of keeping wild animals and reptiles as pets, whereas the other half argue against. Spend some minutes to prepare how to defend "your" views.
  3. Why are people all over the world so touched by the story of Christian the Lion?


Research

  1. "The Lion Man" is a conservationist. Use the internet to find out what a conservationist is.
  2. What do you think about this approach to environmental issues?