Nicole forwarded an amazing video. Christian the lion was raised by humans and then released into the wild. Watch the cat’s reaction when these people return to see him a year later.
After a year apart, after a year in the wild, Christian still recognizes his old friends and greets them with enthusiasm. Aside from thinking how scared you would be in the same situation (I know I would be!), take a look at how the lion uses “family greeting”, that familiar housecat bump of the head.
I remember watching a show about cats on TLC in the early 1990s (back when TLC was “The Learning Channel” and not the “how to remodel your house channel”). The show featured a short segment about this head-bump behavior, which the scientists being interviewed had dubbed “family greeting”. In our house of four cats, we see the family greeting used all the time. I just haven’t seen it used from a lion greeting a human before.
This video has been popular on the internet recently, but nobody seems to have dug further for the story. This clip is actually from a documentary made during the early 1970s called Christian the Lion at World’s End. You can read the entire story here. Here’s an excerpt giving the backstory:
Christian was separated from his parents at an early age and put up for sale in a London department store. Christian’s parents were zoo lions, the father came from the Rotterdam zoo and the mother from Jerusalem, and they lived at the Ilfracombe zoo. When they had cubs, the zoo sold them, and two cubs went to the department store.
Two men, Anthony Bourke and John Rendall, found him there and immediately fell in love with him and determined to buy him. They scraped together the money and brought the little lion home when he was only a few weeks old. They named him Christian.
Tony and John dedicated themselves to giving Christian the best life they could, and the bond that developed between them is a joy to behold. Christian was a remarkable lion, obviously very intelligent and loving, and gentle to everyone, both human and animal.
As he grew, Christian began to need bigger facilities than Tony and John could provide. Thanks to a chance meeting with Bill Travers (who had starred in the movie Born Free), they hit upon the idea of sending Christian to Africa to live as a wild lion.
Bill Travers contacted George Adamson to set up the project, and came up with the idea of making a documentary movie of it all, to fund the project. Christian is an absolute joy to watch in this movie. The love he shows, his intelligence, his joie de vie, are beautiful.
Last May, the London Daily Mail published a longer article detailing this story. Finally, here’s a great page about George Adamson, the man behind Born Free and other lion films, including Christian the Lion at World’s End.