Love and pride.

I sometimes wonder how powerful love is.

This invisible thing that drives us blindly onwards through life as much as it desperately holds us back. That secret thing that means nothing else matters as you burn inside with those insatiable but somehow hidden flames.

A force of impossible urgency that forges living memories out of life and carves experience on your soul. Or that feeling beyond anything, when you just know with every fibre of your being that you are totally safe.

Love never forgets.

But don’t take my word for it.

Maybe you’ve seen or read about this before – it is quite old, but I’ll tell you about it again anyway. In the late 1960s, two friends, John Rendall and Ace Berg, bought a lion cub.

Yes, you read that correctly – it was the 1960s, anything was possible – they bought a f*ckING LION. Because they had seen it living in a cage in a department store and they felt it was horribly unfair on the little chap, they wanted him to have a better life, they wanted to help.

At the time, Christian the lion was an adorable, fluffy 35lb cub.

The two friends raised Christian lovingly in their London home. All three hung out in their furniture shop on the weekends, like the greatest of chums, they played with him, cuddled him and raised him with limitless hugs.

But after a year or so, Christian had grown to 185 lbs. And to their despair, Rendall and Berg realised they simply couldn’t keep him much longer. Despite their utter love for him – he was getting too big and they wanted him to be safe and happy, but they simply didn’t know what to do with him for the best.

A random encounter changed that….

Two actors from the film Born Free walked into the furniture shop one morning. The two actors recommended a conservationist, George Adamson, who was living in Kenya and suggested he might be the perfect contact to find Christian a real home out in the wilds.

As massively painful as it was, they knew it was for the best and (now not so little) Christian was soon out in Africa, where he was quickly successfully rehabilitated and fully released into the wild.

But… a while later, Rendall and Berg decided they just HAD to try to go and visit Christian one last time.

This, on the face of it was a silly idea, because he had been gone for years now and had been fully returned to the wild. Not only was he now fending for himself out on the plains, but he was leading his own pride.

Christian had gone, that tiny cub didn’t exist anymore.

He was a wild animal.

Adamson told them it was massively doubtful that Christian could be found at all, it was for the best not to expect to spot him – especially since no-one in the nature reserve had seen him at all in over nine months.

But here’s that love thing again, or at least real hope, because the two of them flew out to Kenya, anyway. They missed him terribly and despite the assurances of that hugely successful return to the wild, I guess they felt that impossible pull, that irrational need to go anyway, just to see.


You don’t know the half of it.

On the day they landed, Christian appeared on the outskirts of Adamson’s camp for the first time in nearly a year.

Somehow, he just knew.

He waited outside the camp until Rendall and Berg arrived…

And nobody could believe what happened next.