Belfast Telegraph

Monday 20 October 2014

Roar blimey: Reunion with lion is YouTube sensation

Footage showing the moment a lion is reunited with his former owners, 38 years after he was returned to Africa, has become an internet sensation.

The clip, showing a lion hugging and kissing his former caretakers, has registered over seven million views on YouTube.

The video was made by Anthony Bourke and John Rendall, two Aussies living in the Chelsea, London in 1969.

According to reports, a friend came back from a trip to Harrods claiming that you could buy lions there. The two friends immediately went to the store and purchased the 35-pound cub which had been born in a zoo.

Once the 35-pound cub grew to 185 pounds and food bills became huge, they decided to return it to a more natural enviroment.

In 1972, he was flown back to Kenya. Nine months later the heartwarming video of the big cat being reunited with his former owners was filmed.

The video is being used by the Born Free Foundation to raise funds for the work they continue to do with lions.

Born Free Foundation Trustee Virginia McKenna said: "Millions of people have been moved by the amazing affection between Christian the lion and his human friends, John and Ace.

"As Elsa the lioness, all those years ago, awoke a respect and fascination for lions so, I believe, Christian can be another ambassador for these wonderful animals. Now so critically reduced in numbers, across Africa.

"If you can help us to help them - join us, adopt a lion, buy the "Christian the Lion" DVD, made by my husband Bill Travers, we would be so grateful."

Videos of the meeting and details of the book can be found at http://www.bornfree.org.uk/

Watch the video here

It isn't the first time a lion has been spotted hugging people. The YouTube clip below has also been circulated via email to millions along with this snippet of text:

"Several years ago this woman found a sick, malnourished lion cub in the jungle. She took the cub home and fed him and brought him up until he was too big to keep anymore. Then she made arrangements with a zoo in Colombia to take the lion. Here’s a video of what happened when she went to visit him in the zoo for the first time:"

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