In 1969 Australian friends John Rendall and Anthony Bourke purchased a young lion cub from Harrods department store in London. They named the lion Christian and lived with him in their Chelsea flat above their furniture store. As he outgrew the flat they later moved him into the basement below the shop, but his increasing size and growing costs of keeping him made them realise that keeping the lion in London was impractical.
Bill Travers and Virginia McKenna, the stars of the movie Born Free visited store they suggested that the friends get in touch with conservationist George Adamson who along with his wife had successfully introduced a cub that they had raised back into the wild (Watch: Elsa: The Lioness That Changed The World). The movie Born Free was the dramatisation of Elsa’s reintroduction to the wild.
Christian: The Lion at World’s End is a 1971 documentary which documents Christians successful reintroduction to the wild and the successful reunion which Rendall and Bourke had with Christian. Adamson had warned the pair that Christian might not remember them. A now famous video shows what actually happened, with Christian playfully leaping into the arms of the two men before introducing them to his new pride. That now famous video clip, which came from this documentary, is embedded below:
This is not the only documentary to have been produced about Christian the Lion, see the 2009 documentary A Lion Called Christian which was produced as a result of the above clip going viral on the internet. It includes contributions from Rendall and Bourke.
Bourke and Rendall wrote the New York Times bestselling book A Lion Called Christian, with a foreword by George Adamson, available to purchase in paperback, hardback, and audiobook editions. It was initially published in 1971 with a new edition published in 2009 after the story went viral on social media.