What happens when you become a product?

If you haven’t seen the video of “Christian the Lion”, you need to watch it first.

Wonderful, isn’t it? It’s a three hankie story if ever I saw one.

But … Sony Pictures has purchased the rights to the story of Christian and the two men: John Rendall and Anthony “Ace” Bourke.

John Rendall, now living in Australia was amazed to discover how popular the Youtube video has become. “If it’s made people more aware and more interested in conservation and the protection of the environment, we’re very pleased,” he said.

Bless him for his simplicity. Because, in my jaded experience, the most likely outcome of the story being turned into a movie, is an exponential growth in the illegal breeding of lions, a massive surge in the death of lionesses in the wild in an attempt to take their cubs, and a sudden explosion of cuddly cubs seen in the arms of Hollywood starlets. And that’s without mentioning the ‘training methods’ used by some Hollywood big animal suppliers. I won’t load a video of that, because it’s utterly unwatchable, but if you really want to know, google animal training and shock collars – and don’t say I didn’t warn you about the appalling cruelty involved.

Of course John and Ace didn’t know, when they found Christian for sale in a shop that should have been ashamed of itself even then, what would happen, nor that these short years in their lives and his, would become emblematic of some communication company’s desire to take our money. But they should know by now. Those who deal with environmental issues, especially those relating to predators, know that any public attention for the cause has both positive and negative outcomes – and the negative can be devastating. The theft of Golden Eagle eggs from nests in Scotland was a direct result of media stories about the successful breeding of two pairs of birds which described the location of the nests.

If you write about wildlife it’s always in the back of your mind that your words might have an unexpected outcome – while John and Ace didn’t set out to cause problems for lions, they may find that their heartwarming story has some heartbreaking consequences.


  1. Nik's Blog
    19th September 2008

    Well said, Kay. (The video is ace though, innit!)


  2. Kip de Moll
    19th September 2008

    Perhaps they would consider a well-written opening to the movie (“don’t try this at home”) that expresses your well-thought opinion. It would be pretty effective if they could include a clip of the Siegfried and roy mauling to accurately balance the truth.

  3. Annie Wicking
    21st September 2008

    Well said.. The youtube was sweet in itself and a little heart felt too. Any thing that makes people stop, listen and look at the bigger picture is great in my mind, but too often people don’t. Any many of dogs and cats are brought with out any really thought and we know what happens to them.

    Great blog by the way and I came here by the way of the little black box too.

    Best wishes,

  4. Kay Sexton
    21st September 2008

    Thanks Nik and Kip – that’s a brilliant idea but I can’t see Sony telling the truth on this issue!

    Annie, lovely that you found me by black box and lovely to have you aboard!


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