Adopting a Lion

While most people decide to keep a dog or a fish for a pet some people seek more exotic faire like cats. While most people are satisfied by old lazy house cats others seek more of an adventure. London residents John Rendall and Anthony “Ace” Bourke wanted a cat as a pet as well, but for these two Australians getting a common calico cat was not enough.

Rendall and Bourke decided to standout in swinging London by purchasing a lion cub from Harrods. The famous London department store prided itself on carrying exotic fair and carrying a lion cub was part of the store’s stated mission of carrying anything that its customers would want. Harrods acquired the lion from a failing zoo, and after a night where he escaped his cage and damaged a section of the store the staff at Harrods was eager to place the big cat elsewhere. Rendall and Bourke stepped in and soon the one year old lion was on the London social scene.

The duo named the lion Christian, and Christian soon became the center of their lives. They enlisted friends to assist in his care and worked to integrate the lion into the world of London in 1969.

Despite their efforts Christian soon became too large to stay in an urban environment. Rendall and Bourke, who worked in a furniture store, also found that the cost of feeding a full grown lion was prohibitive. They decided to work with Kenyan based naturalist George Adamson to train Christian to return to the wild.

Adamson had be featured on the documentary Born Free. He had trained other lions to be released into the wild. Christian adapted slowly to his training, but he eventually became the only lion from his original training group to be released. While this story was spectacular enough, the reunion between Christian and his owners proved that the union between animals and humans defies conventional wisdom.

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