Happy Birthday Christian!

Published 12 August 2013
Eternal Hug 2013 by Jiawei Shen oil on canvas 213 x 167 cms

Eternal Hug 2013 by Jiawei Shen oil on canvas 213 x 167 cms

Christian was born on the 12 August 1969 – 44 years ago in Ilfracombe Zoo, Devon.  In the wild he may have lived to be 10 or 12 years old, and some lions can live up to 18 years old in a zoo.  Some of you may have seen his good looking parents Butch and Mary in our original documentary, pacing up and down a small concrete cage enclosure. Such was his size, frustration and anger, Butch once or twice smashed his way out, no doubt creating havoc! 

Artist Jiawei Shen has painted this portrait of Christian and Ace Bourke. In Eternal Hug he wanted to capture and express some of the deep and various emotions this image generates. Jaiwei Shen’s portrait is based on a 1970 photograph by Derek Cattani, taken when they were living in the country with Bill Travers and Virginia McKenna while waiting for permission to go to Kenya.

On the YouTube video entitled Christian The Lion- HUG! you can see the same image as Christian jumps up on Ace when he enter’s his specially built compound.


  1. joeliz
    Posted April 3, 2014 at 9:34 pm | Permalink

    i love the thing you guys did i love it

  2. Janet W. Fagerlund
    Posted May 8, 2015 at 4:53 am | Permalink

    What a beautiful picture of Christian as a full grown lion!

    I have the DVD movie about Christian called The Lion at World’s End that I got for Christmas in 2014…

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