Video: Christian the Lion Reunited with Humans Who Raised Him

by J.D. Roth on 16 August 2007 · 12 comments

in Behavior,Interspecies,Movies

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.

{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

wan othman 08 August 2007 (03) at 3:28 am

Hi,
first of all, great web blog

secondly, I noticed that you already mentioned it several times about new caledonian crow, but this one is new..
check this out
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/6948446.stm

thanks
-wan-

Reply

Monster 08 August 2007 (08) at 8:38 am

Awesome!

Reply

Beautysblush 04 April 2008 (14) at 2:13 pm

This is truly beautiful. A bond between an animal and humane is so pure and sweet.

Reply

lena vidad 06 June 2008 (06) at 6:48 am

this is really touching, I myself love animals so much, sometimes, it’s better to love animals than human, coz they will really love you, and won’t forget you…

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ana 07 July 2008 (03) at 3:19 am

i watched this video on youtube and right away wanted to find out more about the story. for a while all i found were links to the same video with the same copypasted comment, until here i read all about it. nice work, interesting subject, not cheesey as other animal blogs.

Reply

Dennis 07 July 2008 (09) at 9:19 am

I can’t remember anything in my life that made me feel like I did when I watched this vedio except the birth of my daughters! I have watched it several times and I get chills each time. This is what God intended the world to be like. Send this to Bush. Obama and Mc Cain. Maybe, just maybe they will get it. Tell them to carry it in their pocket whenever they go to talk to another leader of another country! I’m not stupid. I know they all won’t get it but isn’t it worth a try?
Animals and people were put on this earth for a reason. But UNFORTUNATELY some of the people turned into animals of a different kind!
Whenever I am feeling down I will watch this vedio and let that unbeleivable feeling rush through my body and make everything alright if only for the moment!
My best friend Rocky who was almost as big as Christian got to experience the same love that these gentlemen and Christian did. Rocky and I had the same bond. Rocky was a dog who we just assume will love you back because isn’t that what their here for? But lions are different or so we thought didn’t we?
Thank you guys from the bottom of my heart. The worlds upside down right now and you turned it around for a moment. Thanks!!!!!!!

Reply

Devi Patrao 07 July 2008 (03) at 3:34 am

I was moved to tears – we humans can learn alot from animals – I love them and thank God for giving us these wonderful creatures – We human beings just don’t seem to have it right.

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Kevin 09 September 2008 (15) at 3:12 pm

My cat uses the head bump greeting with me. Now I know she is say hello, how neat.

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Christie Page 02 February 2009 (08) at 8:38 am

This video is so awesome and the guys look like the lead singer of queen!!!!!

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MAUREEN 09 September 2009 (18) at 6:25 pm

THE MOST WONDERFUL ANIMAL VIDEO I EVER SAW. I CRIED IT WAS SO EMOTIONAL, MOVING & AMAZING.

Reply

cheryl 08 August 2010 (16) at 4:49 pm

if you can, catch the documentary about Christian on animal planet!! it was awesome. it shows the bond between humans and an animal….

Reply

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