Christian the Lion the Truth About Lion ReUnion and His Tragic Demise
Christian the Lion or Lion Re Union
Why we are opposed to people forwarding Christian the Lion Reunion: No matter how many times you say that big cats should not be bred and traded as pets, if people see images of big cats acting like pets, they will continue to buy and dump them. More HERE about the kind of people who own exotic animals.
If you have had Internet access for more than a week, someone has probably sent you the 1971 video clip of two guys hugging a lion. The story as presented almost cannot help but moisten your eyes. But it creates a misimpression that leads to abuse and abandonment.
Look closely at the lion’s mane in the video. The small mane means this lion was approximately three years old, i.e. a cub, despite its size. Lion cubs grow quickly, typically reaching 100 pounds in just a year, and 200 by two years. It is mentally still a kitten until about five years of age and mentally still dependent on the object of its maternal bonding.
Passing this video around is a bad idea. It creates the totally false impression that the bond created when a human raises a lion or other big cat cub will create an affection on the part of the cat that will last and make it safe to be with the cat when it becomes an adult. It more broadly creates the impression that it is safe to handle an adult big cat.
This is simply not the case. There is no way to predict when a big cat, no matter how “tame” it may appear or how often it may have been used for physical contact without incident, will act on instinct. Roy Horn is one of the best known trainers in history, Montecore had performed many times, but all it took was one time when the cat acted on instinct to end his career. More tragically, a tiger at the Lost Creek facility had been used for “photo ops” many times before he acted on instinct and killed 17 year old Haley Hilderbrand who was having a photo taken with the cat to celebrate her high school graduation. Most of the cats you see in performing acts and petting booths or photo opportunities are under the age of five because they have not fully developed mentally.
By fostering the notion that these cats will be safe to touch as adults, the video encourages foolish people to buy them as pets, which is legal in many states. As the cats become adults they become unmanageable, unsafe, and typically are either kept in squalid small cages, abandoned, sold or given to people who use them to make money, or destroyed. It also encourages people to want to touch them or have their photos taken with them. As long as that demand and opportunity to make money is there, people who typically keep the cats in horrible conditions will continue to breed these animals into a life of abuse.
Please don’t pass this video around and if someone send it to you, please send them to this page. You can help end the vicious cycle of abuse.
Furthermore, this was the last time anyone saw Christian the lion and he was still just a cub. George Adamsom was ambushed and killed by bandits, but said in his autobiography, “Promises of solitude, of wild animals in a profusion to delight the heart of Noah, and of the spice of danger, were always honored. Today, of these three, you are only likely to encounter the danger.”
The following is what is known of the story behind the clip.
The British documentary “Christian the Lion” is a fascinating example of life imitating art. In this case, the art was the 1966 film classic “Born Free” starring Bill Travers and Virginia McKenna. That film was based on the real-life story of George and Joy Adamson and their successful efforts to re-introduce an orphaned lion into the wilderness.
(What most people do not know is that Elsa didn’t live long on her own due to the fact that is impossible for a person to teach a big cat everything they need to know to survive without the cat coming to not have a healthy fear of going near people.)
“Christian the Lion” found Travers and McKenna in an advanced case of déjà vu. In 1970, they were shopping for a desk and ventured into the World’s End furniture store on the King’s Road in London. The store managers, the Australian duo John Rendall and Ace Berg, recognized Travers and decided to show him the store’s mascot: a young lion. Rendall and Berg had purchased the lion from the Harrod’s department store a year earlier and were raising him on their own. But, of course, a furniture store is no place to keep a lion – and the combined salaries of two furniture store managers were barely keeping the animal fed.
Travers and McKenna, who had become highly visible as animal rights activists following the success of “Born Free,” realized that the lion could not be kept as a domestic pet. And selling him to a zoo seemed like a cruel idea – zoo design was still fairly primitive in the early 1970s and imprisoning a majestic lion in a stark cage was a ghastly notion. Thus, Travers and McKenna decided to reprise their “Born Free” odyssey and called on George Adamson for an unlikely plan: to bring the London lion to Africa and teach him how to be a wild animal at home with nature. (Joy Adamson had separated from her husband in 1970 and, thus, was not a part of this venture.)
Travers and McKenna also decided to record this story as a documentary. The resulting “Christian the Lion” actually gets off on a bit of a strange opening, with a clumsy recreation of the actors’ initial discovery of Christian. For starters, the sound is badly out-of-sync – watching the opening sequence is disconcerting, as it is easy to assume the production is an amateur outing. Even worse, the facts have been trimmed to the bone. Contrary to the film’s assertion, Christian’s presence was not a surprise to everyone – the lion was actually something of a minor celebrity in London before Travers and McKenna showed up, and it was even featured in a fashion advertising campaign. Furthermore, the film ignores Rendall and Berg’s respective girlfriends, who helped in the care and maintenance of Christian. Rendall also wrote a book called “A Lion Called Christian,” but that’s not cited here.
After that initial clumsy segment is over, “Christian the Lion” finds its traction and is presented as a real-time, real-life adventure. Travers and McKenna invited Christian and his owners to live with them while arrangements are made to transport him to Africa. They took the lion on outings for a spot of exercise – a romp in a closed-off church courtyard (with the vicar watching nervously from behind a curtained window) and a visit to the beach. The latter trip might have prompted the inclusion of the old British music hall ditty “Oh, We Do Like to be Beside the Seaside,” but instead the film’s score is provided in hippy-dippy melodies by the English folk-rockers Pentangle.
Getting Christian to Kenya required a great deal of negotiations with the Kenyan government (obviously they had enough lions and weren’t eager to import one from England). Travers and McKenna, who alternate as narrators of the film, mention in passing that dealing with the Kenyan authorities took more time and energy than they expected. Nonetheless, they are able to get Christian transported to Kenya and into the care of George Adamson’s game reserve.
The remainder of the film follows Adamson’s efforts to integrate Christian into his new surroundings. That first involved introducing him to other lions – up until this point, Christian lived exclusively with human company. Adamson tried to create a new pride of lions consisting of Christian and three other orphaned animals: the female Katania, the frisky tyke Super Cub, and a male lion named Boy who took an immediate dislike to Christian. However, once Boy and Christian determined the pecking order among them (Boy won the Alpha Male spot), the two became happy blokes.
Adamson’s next challenge was getting this new pride to take care of itself in the wild. The lions had to learn to hunt and to defend themselves from other lions that roamed Adamson’s preserve. Did Christian and his new family make it in the wild (if you can call the preserve, the wild)? If so, how long? Does anyone know?
There is a sequence late in the film that will soften even the most cynical of hard-hearts. The finds McKenna at a zoo in Amsterdam, where she has located Christian’s parents. The two lions are locked in a small, bare cage with a concrete floor. They pace endlessly and monotonously back and forth. It is tragic to behold these beautiful animals in such cruel captivity, and the viewer knows the beasts will never experience the chance for freedom that their offspring experienced.
Details on the production history for “Christian the Lion” are somewhat difficult to track down. Some sources list the film as a 1971 production, others claim it was from 1976. One online source states the film was produced in conjunction with Rendall’s book, which came out in 1972, so that would probably put the film’s production closer to the earlier date. Also, a recent article in the Daily Mail outlines a 1974 reunion between Christian and his London buddies, but that meeting also included Christian’s lioness and cubs. There is no mention of this in the film, so I would assume the production wrapped in 1971 (it would seem peculiar to leave this post-script from the film). 1976 most likely reflects the year the film played in the U.S.
The film also has something of a problem with its name. The original British title was “The Lion at World’s End,” a reference to the London neighborhood where Christian was raised. However, that reference had no meaning outside of the U.K., so the film was given a new title for its American release: “The Lion Who Thought He Was People.” The film’s U.S. distributor, Scotia American, created a poster with Christian wearing big round eyeglasses – making him look like the leonine equivalent of the cartoon canine Mr. Peabody. Of course, that title was even worse than the original, and the film was renamed “Christian the Lion” for its U.S. and global distribution. In the U.K., it is now called “Christian – The Lion at World’s End.”
There are also a few sources that insist “The Lion at World’s End” and “Christian the Lion” are two different movies. That is not the case.
Scotia American went out of business in the mid-1970s and nobody seems to be claiming the film’s U.S. rights. Several distributors who specialize in public domain titles have been offering faded, muddy prints of “Christian the Lion” on home video and DVD.
Government concedes defeat after bribes and intimidation fail to deter rebels
MPs voted to ban wild animals in circuses last night after David Cameron’s attempts to bully Conservative backbenchers into voting against the measure backfired and ended in a humiliating public defeat. In a decision hailed by campaigners as an “historic victory for animal welfare and protection”, MPs of all parties unanimously backed a ban and the Government signalled that it would introduce one, ending forever the days of lions, tigers, elephants and other wild animals in the big top.
In an act of desperation, Conservative whips had warned they would impose the most serious parliamentary voting sanction, a three-line whip, to bring recalcitrant backbenchers to heel and get them to support the Government’s alternative proposal of a licensing system. But in a victory for The Independent’s campaign for a ban and for the long campaigns waged by animal welfare organisations, Downing Street backed down when it became apparent that it would lose the vote despite what backbenchers described as “desperate” measures. One of the three MPs who brought the cross-party motion for a ban disclosed that he had first been offered a government job – and then threatened that the Prime Minister would look “very dimly” on his recalcitrance – unless he amended or withdrew the motion. Mark Pritchard, a Conservative backbencher, stood firm and insisted that the measure be voted upon. As astonished MPs listened, Mr Pritchard said: “Well I have a message for the whips and for the Prime Minister of our country – and I didn’t pick a fight with the Prime Minister – I may just be a little council house lad from a very poor background but that background gave me a backbone. It gives me a thick skin and I’m not going to be cowed by the whips of the Prime Minister on an issue I feel passionately about and have conviction about. “There may be some other people with backbones on this side and they will speak later, but we need a generation of politicians with a bit of spine, not jelly. And I will not be bullied by any of the whips.”
MPs from all sides of the House including the Liberal Democrat MP Don Foster, Labour’s Nia Griffiths and the Green leader Caroline Lucas attacked the Government’s position, saying that both public and parliamentary opinion was in support of a ban. The motion was to “direct” the Government to introduce a ban. Shortly before the vote, the Animal Welfare minister, Jim Paice, said: “If at the end of this debate the House were to approve this motion then of course we will have to respect that.” Animal welfare groups were ecstatic. The RSPCA said: “This is a win for democracy as well as animal welfare.”
It said it hoped the Government would quickly and formally announce a ban. Animal Defenders International, the group which shot undercover footage of the beating by a Romanian groom of Anne the elephant at Bobby Roberts Circus, said: “This debate and vote has exposed the Government and demonstrated just how out of touch they have been with their peers, the public, and animal welfare groups.” Mary Creagh, the shadow Environment Secretary, said: “The public will be absolutely delighted that MPs from all parties have stood up to the Tory-led Government on this issue to achieve such a fantastic result. The vote brings to an end 48 hours of chaos and confusion from the Government about their position on a ban. It is extraordinary that David Cameron used such bully-boy tactics to threaten his own MPs and tried to impose a three-line whip on the vote.” The Government had initially planned to ban wild animals from circuses but the Department of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs was forced to do a U-turn, and instead proposed a licensing system, after Mr Cameron, a keen hunter and shooter, blocked the move. Mr Paice blamed a court challenge to a ban in Austria for the decision, but there was no court challenge and he was forced to admit during an emergency debate, called because of the misinformation, that he had misled the Commons.
The Government’s subsequent claim that a ban could be challenged under the Human Rights Act or the EU Services Directive was challenged by lawyers and the European Commission. The Government and MPs came under intense pressure from voters. More than 32,000 signed The Independent’s online petition calling for the Government to change its mind, and supporters of the protest group 38 Degrees, which had forced Defra to abandon plans for its forests sell-off, deluged MPs’ offices with hundreds of emails, letters and phone calls. During the debate, MPs said the issue was emblematic of wider animal welfare issues. But the most astonishing contribution came from Mr Pritchard who had secured the backbench debate, which should have had a free vote. He said: “On Monday if I offered to amend my motion or drop my motion or not call a vote on this motion – and we’re not talking about a major defense issue or an economic issue or an issue of public-sector reform, we’re talking about a ban on wild animals in circuses – I was offered reward and incentive. If I didn’t call for a ban – I was offered a job. Not as a minister, it was a pretty trivial job. “Then it was ratcheted up to last night and I was threatened. I had a call from the Prime Minister’s Office directly and I was told unless I withdrew this motion that the Prime Minister himself would look upon it ‘very dimly indeed’.”
He told MPs: “It remains a mystery why the Government has mounted such a concerted operation to stop there being a vote on this motion.”
Wynnewood, Okla. — The federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has cited and fined a Wynnewood roadside zoo known as G.W. Exotic Animal Park for several serious violations of worker safety laws. The national nonprofit Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF) sent a formal complaint requesting enforcement to OSHA on December 18, 2013, after a park employee was mauled by a tiger late on October 5, 2013 and nearly lost her arm. OSHA began its investigation of the facility two days after receiving ALDF’s letter, noting a lack of barriers between the employees and captive wild animals and other inadequate worker protections. Additional violations include not providing adequate communications of hazardous chemical exposure. These violations resulted in a legal citation and a $5200 proposed penalty, issued March 31, 2014. However, OSHA has since lowered the penalty to $2400.
Undercover investigations by other animal groups suggest that dozens of tiger cubs have died in the care of G.W. Exotic Animal Park, and animals have been routinely and violently assaulted by workers when fights erupt from incompatible animals being caged together. The investigations also indicate premature removal of infants from mothers, inadequate care of pain, and inappropriate behavior such as giving lit cigarettes to primates. Park operator Joe Schreibvogel has previously been fined $25,000 for nearly 200 violations of the Animal Welfare Act.
“Worker safety professionals everywhere should thank groups like ALDF for looking out for employees as well as for animal welfare,” according to Dr. Adam Finkel, formerly OSHA’s chief enforcement official in the Rocky Mountain states. “Shortly after OSHA issued these citations, the DC Circuit court ruled in a case against SeaWorld that OSHA clearly has the authority to insist that workers be protected from dangerous animals.”
“ALDF congratulates OSHA on its swift enforcement against this horrific park” said Stephen Wells, executive director of the Animal Legal Defense Fund. “Not only are workers and visitors repeatedly injured, but the animals at this roadside sham are miserably mistreated.”
Copies of ALDF’s complaint and OSHA’s citations are available by request.
Posted on April 24, 2014
Federal Agency Fines Oklahoma Animal Park for Violation of Worker Safety Laws
Cypress the bobcat was rescued on January 4, 2014 and has been recovering in the West – Boensch Cat Hospital for these past 7 weeks. She had been resisting eating whole prey items, such as rats and chicks, so we were getting worried that she would never switch off the ground diet we have been giving her to the real prey items that she would have to eat in the wild. We couldn’t let her lose her ability to recognize prey and insisted that she eat what wild bobcats eat, but maybe Cypress knew best because after giving in and eating mice, she got bound up and couldn’t pass the fur and bones.
We took her in to see Dr. Wynn yesterday to do follow up X-rays and help her eliminate the fur and bones that were stuck in her intestinal tract. It was a very sad day for us because it appears that her pelvis is not healing properly and she may never be able to eat rats, mice, birds or anything else with fur, feathers or bones. That means she will probably never be able to go free.
So now we are faced with an awful decision: Life in a cage or euthanasia. Since it is still early in her recovery, what we decided to do was flush out her bowels (a big shout out to everyone at Ehrlich Road Animal Hospital as this stunk up the whole place) and put her back on a ground diet. If she can continue to eat and pass the ground diet, as she did for the first 6 weeks, then we will move her outside and try to acclimate her to humans.
Right now she hates us, because wild bobcats are supposed to hate people, but if she has to spend her life in a cage, then we need to help her learn to love us. That means lots of treats on sticks, soft words and patience. Even this isn’t a guaranteed life of luxury for Cypress though. There are many other considerations, such as; Pain management: Can she heal in such a way to be pain free? Future blockage: Even if we only feed her a ground diet, will she be able to catch squirrels or birds that end up in her cage and get blocked up again? We aren’t going to put her through repeated episodes, so if it happens again, it will only be humane to euthanize her.
There are many other factors to consider, and it is this sort of thing that keeps us up at night. This was about the worst news we could get on Cypress, but thought you would want to know.
Shere Khan Tiger and Armani Leopard Updates
Shere Khan’s blood work indicates moderate kidney value elevations and mild elevation in calcium which could be an indicator of many diseases including cancer. The changes in his blood work are similar to many other cats his age. His rear right knee is arthritic and he is now on a new course of medications to manage his pain. It has been a challenge to get him to take his meds consistently which is why he spent several days in the roofed section. Since being in there he has eaten his food and meds consistently. He is fed two meals a day of whatever foods he likes best. His foods are chopped up in easy to grab bites and are often fed to him with an operant stick.
After being let out in the yard yesterday he decided that he did not want to come up for his meds this morning. So we will try feeding him in the roofed section at night and then keeping him locked up until after his breakfast and morning meds the next day.
Armani had the mass removed from the back of her throat. She did very well under anesthesia, has recovered, and is back out in her enclosure. The mass was sent to the lab for testing.
Through Glass Video Big Cat Rescue
Disclaimer: This video is very shaky at the end and the wind noise makes it almost unbearable to watch but the things I had to say were so depressing that I just couldn’t say them again.
This is the first video shot with Google Glass Explorer 2.0 and it was a learning experience. It is not great film, because of hair blowing in front of the camera, me trying to get used to focusing where the camera should be pointing and the wind noise in the latter part of the video, but I am excited. I think this is one of those turning points in the history of mankind (Google Glass, not my video) and is certainly a turning point in the way we will be able to do our jobs here and share that work with you.
The main reason for the $1500 investment into Glass is to bring our videos into the first person perspective for you and to be able to capture moments that I could never catch if I had to either be holding a camera or digging one out of a pocket.
Glass has the ability to take a photo by me just blinking my eye at the moment I want to capture.
It can take a video on a voice command to do so. At that same moment I can ask Glass to text it to someone, post it to Facebook or email it.
Without digging into a pocket and swiping open my screen on my phone I can now see a weather forecast right in front of me as we are working with the cats.
I can ask Glass for directions and it displays turn for turn with an arrow to follow, in the display just above my right eye, so I never have to look away from the road. Imagine how helpful that will be when driving to a rescue?
I can just say, “OK Glass, google natural sources of B-12 vitamins” and a display pops up right when I am shopping for some food sources for the cats.
Even if my hands are full carrying shovels and rakes, I can see my texts, emails and other alerts, scroll past. With just a glance I can ignore them or touch the side of glass to tell me more, or even read it to me, if I have to keep my eyes on the job at hand.
I’m still learning all of the features and trying to master some of the nuances of it, but am excited to be accepted into the Google Explorer program to beta test this amazing piece of technology and be one of the pioneers who gives them input into how it can be better for different users, like those of us working with animals all day. I just can’t wait until these are available to the masses, as I think they will become vital tools to many of our staff and volunteers.
What makes this a moment in time that could well be the singularity is that as these recording devices become more ubiquitous, and accepted in society, I think people will behave much more kindly and with a forced integrity, if they know that everything they say or do could be recorded. The bad guys are going to hate it!
Faux fur the future in Africa?
For more Last Look, watch GPS, Sundays at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. ET on CNN After the kind of winter we’ve had here in New York, upgrades on winters coats have been the style of the season. And at the city’s recent fashion week, one of the must-have items was what was described as a “fabulous fur.” Halfway across the world, the South African men in the video are sporting fur of their own during a religious ritual. Carrying Zulu warrior shields, the men are wearing the traditional ceremonial attire of the Shembe religion – a monkey tail loin cloth, ostrich feathers on their head, a leopard skin belt, and a leopard skin cape. And perhaps fashion designers should copy this African custom. You see, for some of the members the fur is fake. In fact, it’s made in China. The international trade of leopard parts is illegal, and the skins used in this ceremonial attire usually come from poachers. But thanks to a project by the Wildcat Conservation group “Panthera,” a fake fur material is now being made in China and shipped to South Africa. Ten percent of members are estimated to have made the switch to synthetic fur, and thousands of these fabulous faux shoulder capes have been shipped to the region. It’s a strange day when African animal skins are manufactured in China and shipped via DHL…but it is certainly the bright side of globalization. http://globalpublicsquare.blogs.cnn.com/2014/02/25/faux-fur-the-future-in-africa/