Chelsea’s pride and joy: new photo book for Christian the lion

Chelsea’s pride and joy: new photo book for Christian the lion


The story of two young Australians who bought a lion cub from Harrods and raised it in a Chelsea flat has captured imaginations for decades. Now, almost 50 years later, Christian the lion is the star of a new illustrated book.

John Rendall and Ace Bourke bought Christian in 1969 and raised him in their flat in the World’s End estate. They exercised the cub at the nearby Moravian church, much to the bemusement of neighbours. When Christian grew too big to remain in the flat, the Australian pair met with Born Free stars Bill Travers and Virginia McKenna, who organised for Christian to be reintroduced to the wild in Africa with the help of conservationist George Adamson.

A year later Rendall and Bourke travelled to Africa to see Christian, despite warnings that the lion now led his own pride and would not recognise them. Footage of their emotional reunion has been watched millions of times on YouTube.

Rendall has now partnered with photographer Derek Cattani to publish Christian The Lion: The Illustrated Legacy,a book of photos documenting the experience that has inspired Rendall’s lifetime commitment to conservation. It follows the 1971 book A Lion Called Christian co-authored by Rendall and Bourke.

The population of African lions has plummeted by 42 per cent over the past 21 years, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). The authors hope Christian’s legacy will raise awareness of the threat to all wildlife.

Christian The Lion: The Illustrated Legacy

John Rendall and Derek Cattani

  • ISBN-10: 1784776394
  • ISBN-13: 978-1784776398

About author