Happy Birthday Christian

August 12, 2012

Happy Birthday Christian

HAPPY BIRTHDAY CHRISTIAN! Thanks to Derek Cattani, Christian’s photographer, for this gorgeous Birthday Card.  Remember on his birthday last year Derek wrote beautifully about photographing Christian when I asked him which was his favourite photograph.  Many of you do ask about photographs of Christian, so do check out his archive  (and another Birthday Card) as well as the ALCC site.

This month also marks 40 years since we last saw Christian. By 1972 Christian had grown into what George Adamson thought may have been the biggest lion in Kenya – close to 500 pounds, and with more growing to do.  To quote from our book A Lion Called Christian, and my letter to my parents.

“We saw Christian every morning & evening for a walk and a chat.  He is much calmer & much more self assured than last year, and stunning to be with.  Just as silly.  Huge.  Jumped up on me only once as before on his hind legs and he did it extremely gently.  He licked my face as he towered over me”.

Despite his size, the local wild lions were still unrelenting in their opposition, and Christian was spending extended periods away from Kora and George assumed he was looking for somewhere more suitable to live. We realised this may mean we may never see him again…..

See our second and last reunion with Christian in 1972.

MAIL: Thanks to George from Florida for this fantastic photograph of a lion having a paw manicure and story.  George asked “did you ever do this to Christian?”  While he loved us, I’m not sure he would have allowed us, although his friend Unity Bevis- Jones probably could have!

Thanks to Gay for forwarding this beautiful slideshow titled Beaute Sauvage.

From Devi “I do believe our beloved Christian’s Birthday is approaching…HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO OUR MOST CHARMING AND ENIGMATIC LION, CHRISTIAN. May your story continue to be told around the world for future generations. Celebrate in Paradise with your friends my beloved Christian. Will always love you”.

I couldn’t say it better myself.

ALDF: The Animal Legal Defence Fund have had a fund raiser for the various court cases they are fighting, and I know many of you support their efforts for Tony the Tiger especially. I just cannot bear to think of the months and years of his captivity…

In the Aboriginal bark painting section of my exhibition with Jenny Kee who was Guest Speaker at the opening.

In the Aboriginal bark painting section of my exhibition with Jenny Kee who was Guest Speaker at the opening

ACE BOURKE: A COLLECTORS JOURNEY: For personal reasons I am overdue responding to various emails, and I will.  I have also been very busy preparing for my exhibition which opened yesterday at the Hazelhurst Regional Gallery & Arts Centre in southern Sydney. The exhibition is dedicated to my mother Patricia Macarthur Bourke (11th May 1922 – 23rd July 2012).

In the exhibition I examine the idea of “collecting” and all the material we accumulate in our lives which provides a map or diary of our lives. As an art curator – and traveller, I have collected alot of art, but most of us live surrounded by items of great sentimental significance and interest – which includes for me, memorabilia about Christian. An interview or “conversation” with me about the exhibition has been posted on http://www.youtube.com/hazelhurstgallery

The Tana River, Kora, Kenya

Detail: The Tana River, Kora, Kenya. Courtesy Born Free Foundation.

This is one of my favourite photographs as it sums up the relief in 1970 of finally getting Christian to Kenya after months of delays, and the necessary vigilance over his well being  and everyone’s safety in England. The photograph represents for me the freedom from restrictions, the beginning of Christian’s natural life, and to just…be.  Happy Birthday Christian.

20 Responses to “Happy Birthday Christian”

  1. […] Download Image More @ acebourke.wordpress.com […]

  2. walter Says:

    the most beautiful thing i ever seen… it was heartbreaking to see the love between an lion en two men.

  3. Ann Hendrix Says:

    Ace, One of my favorite travel mementos is one of George Adamson’s tobacco tins he gave me to remember him. I was in Kampi twice in the 1980s for a month the first time and two weeks the second. Of course George showed us the movie of Christian on the sheet screen hung from the enclosure fence. I cried like a fool during the sad parts!
    Those were the best memories of my life and I was so happy when the video of you, John, George and Christian took off on youtube. Thank you for sharing Christian with the world. Best wishes to you, Ann Hendrix

  4. Susan Boyle Says:

    Dear Ace,
    My sincere and heartfelt condolences on the passing of your mother, Pat – how wonderful that you dedicated your exhibition “A Collector’s Journey” to her. To think that she saved all of your letters that you wrote to her from England and Africa and how resourceful they were to you when you shared your story of Christian. I have to laugh, how many mothers are able to relate stories to their family and friends about her son who lives in England with a lion, in his flat! I wonder if people always believed her! Well, you gave your Mom some great memories and stories to tell and you were very fortunate to have your Mom live into her nineties, hope I’m as fortunate as you were and my Mom will live into her
    Congratulations on your exhibition, Happy Birthday Christian, and
    God rest your soul, Pat Bourke

    Sincerely, Sue Boyle

  5. Jeani Mertens Says:

    I also wanted to add that we own a 70 lb Bassett Hound/Pit Bull that we rescued from the shelter. He’s like a small horse and we love him so. I can certainly relate your love for Christian, while he was a wild animal, the love we share for an animal stays with us forever.

  6. Jeani Mertens Says:

    I love reading your newsletter by the way. I’m so glad you have so many beautiful pictures of Christian. Hard to believe it’s been 40 years.

  7. Sabrina Broussard Says:

    Dear Ace, I just wanted to wish Christian a very “Happy Birthday”. This story just warms my heart and everyone around me. My girls are all grown up, 26, 21 and 15 but they all love the story and now have Christian in their hearts. Thank you for continuing your Blog and for loving Christian the way you did. I watch the video documentary often and I cry everytime 🙂 It’s people like you and John that make this world truly a better place.

    My best regards,
    Sabrina Broussard
    Hackberry, LA

  8. I enjoyed reading your post for Christian’s birthday, and thank you for your continued support of Tony The Truck Stop Tiger. We are still awaiting a decision from the August 6th hearing, Mr. Sandlin’s (Tony’s owner) lawsuit against the State; the court also heard ALDF’s and the State’s exceptions which requested Mr. Sandlin’s case be dismissed. Tony’s change.org petition remains open: http://www.change.org/petitions/ldwf-ensure-tony-the-tiger-is-released-to-a-reputable-sanctuary

  9. Pace Says:

    Thank you so much for your lovely response and for letting me know today is Christian’s birthday.

    I no doubt will order several pictures that are offered thru the website you sent me. Thank you thank you thank you!

    I will of course order some pics with you and John with Christian. You guys will always be in my prayers. God bless!

    I promise to stay in touch and to read your emails religiously!


    Sent from my iPhone

  10. hecrot Says:

    HAPPY BIRTHDAY to the beautiful and charismatic lion : Chirstian !
    We will never forget you.

  11. Reblogged this on Great Cats of the "World" and commented:
    Thank you for sharing us Christian’s Birthday today….his story still remains to be one of the favs. amongst people worldwide. Happy Birthday Christian xooxoxo
    A bit thank you also for Continuing to Spread Awareness for Tony the Truck Stop tiger . God Bless xoxo

  12. Devi Patarao Says:

    Love you always Christian ….. Forever and always ….

  13. Michelle Says:

    Happy Birthday Christian!

    Thank you Ace for posting the wonderful picture of you and Christian. You can see the love he has for you in his eyes.

    Thank you again for giving Christian the life he was destined to have…what you and John did for Christian is truly the epitome of selflessness and love.

    God Bless,


  14. Julia Kujawinska Says:

    My condolences Ace on the loss of your mother. My mother also passed away the day after on the 24 July this year so I know what a sad time this must be for you.

    Christian’s story is one of the most heartwarming I have heard and I have read the book and watched the tv documentaries and film about Christian, you and John. Please carry on with your blogs as I am sure everyone finds them immensely interesting – I certainly do. x

  15. Alice Says:

    First of all congratulations to you on your exhibition of ” A Collectors’s Journey”. I wish I could have been there to see these collections as the sentimental value that comes with the items are just priceless. It tells the story of where have you been and stages of development in different phases of life.

    Your story with Christian is especially unforgettable and heartwarming. It certainly has stimulated the interest in me about lions and eventually the life of George Adamson. I read his autobiography “My pride and Joy” and it is so vividly written about the African wildlife, landscape and its people. I particuarly enjoy the part about Christian.

    But it is sad to see the depleting numbers of lions in Africa. This year for Christian’s birthday, my wish for him is the numbers of lions to stop dwindling. Lastly, thank you for sharing your story and Christian shall live in my heart forever.

    best wishes.

  16. ~jj swanson Says:

    Love your <3! Thank you for sharing your picture with Christian.

  17. Susan Canada Says:

    Christian is a perfect example of how it’s so much better to live life in one’s own ‘element,’ being true to oneself!

  18. Tanya Says:

    What kind of memorabilia about Christian have you collected, Ace? Could you share the photographs of it here, please? ..It will be delighted, if I can enjoy it too!…

    • acebourke Says:

      In the exhibition I have about 10 framed “vintage” photographs by Derek Cattani from London – most are still available on his website. I have the still series of the 1971 reunion photographs in Africa, and the photograph where Christian is looking into my eyes posted on his birthday last year. In a display case I have some of the 1970s editions of A Lion Called Christian in various languages and some recent ones. I have a signed copy of Born Free by Joy Adamson. I have the letters I wrote to my parents after our reunions with Christian that we quote in the book. I have the photograph on this blog at the Tana River – a little faded and with the pin marks from Mum’s kitchen wall. I have a photograph of a cat or two and our family crest – a “cat o’mountain” interestingly, Finally there is a 1946 edition of Orlando the Marmalade Cat (given to me by my God parents) which I just adored as a child and might have started all this….thanks for asking!

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