Kate on Conservation

The Born Free Story

The Story of Elsa the lioness, Born Free, Living Free and Forever Free

As I touched upon in my last blog post, I have recently read The Lions’ Legacy, the biography of the late George Adamson; whom the film ‘Born Free’ was based on.

In fact, I have read many books about George and Joy Adamson’s lives with lions, including Joy’s series Born Free, Living Free and Forever Free, which are the most famous titles.

Books about lions in Africa

Their life —  and later George’s life without Joy — surrounded by the sights and smells of the savannah fascinates me. Not least because their decision to hand raise Elsa the lioness, and the subsequent film depicting their tale, led to the founding of the Born Free Foundation.

It was Virginia McKenna OBE (who took on the role of Joy) and the late Bill Travers (whom depicted George) that started the foundation after being deeply moved by the tale.

Interestingly, there was a further film made about George Adamson, portraying much of what is covered in the afore-mentioned biography. The film ‘To Walk with Lions’ shows much of his later life after his marriage with Joy broke down. Even as an elderly man George chose to live amongst the African wild and sacrificed all he had for his beloved lions.

Being the avid follower of the stories and biographies relating to Born Free, I also bought myself a copy of the book ‘Christian the Lion’ but have yet to read it, despite it being quite a famous story. Sometimes there are just not enough hours in the day to do all the reading I would like.

I suppose the appeal for me is that every time I read about the sights, sounds and smells of the bush I am transported back to a time where I woke up every morning for 3 months to the dramatic African sunrises and the songs of the birds flying over the reserve. I think to live in such a place that touched my heart the way South Africa did will always be a dream of mine.

As a further chapter to the ‘Born Free’ film, in 1996 the movie ‘Born Free: a New Adventure’ was released, telling the story of a young American family trading the concrete jungle of New York for the wilds of Africa. Similarly to Joy and George’s story, they find themselves having to introduce a lion back to the wild.

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