An experience at Castellar Zoo

A lion called Christian’ by Anthony Bourke & John Rendall

Having been a victim of ‘You Tube’ footage, I received a film clip from a friend saying how amazing this was. So, I watched ‘A lion called Christian’ with interest. The true story is about how two Australians left Australia in the early 70s to visit London. They worked and lived above a furniture shop called ‘Sophisticat’. During a trip out along Knightsbridge they went into Harrods. On sale was a lion cub. The other cub had been sold. They explain how they felt a connection with this particular cub and decided to buy him.  The book explains how they were aware of potential problems as Christian would grow in size and how they considered what they could do to solve these up and coming situations. The You Tube footage is in two parts and shows how Christian was allowed to run around in the local church yard as it had a closed wall garden.  The story goes on to explain how their plans developed on setting Christian free and releasing him back into the wild along with all of the setbacks, trials and tribulations they faced. This is a very touching true story. I’m sure those of you with pets will appreciate how they all have their own individual personalities and this book just emphasises this. The book is not very big and won’t take you long to read it.

Castellar Zoo, Spain, August 2015

The lion I am holding is not Christian. He was a rescued lion, from a circus.  He has not yet officially been named, but rumour had it, that he will be named after one of the characters from ‘Game of Thrones’. When placed on the surgery floor he wanted to play. He was fascinated by my bag that had my lenses in. Pulled away from those, he then laid on the floor. After we’d all held him, he then proceeded to have a wee on the floor.  So, how do you distract a lion from walking through his wee and not chasing the large bundle of paper towels being swished back and forth to mop up?  Tickle his tummy of course!

The lion cub was a lot lighter than I expected for his size. He was amazingly gentle despite his paws being almost the size of my hands.  The monkey I held, found great fascination with my bracelet. The Ocelot was just like a large domestic cat, his fur was so soft, He just looked up at me when I held him, his amazing eyes just engaged with mine. I also fed a Ring Tailed Lemur a piece of banana.  Their fur is also incredibly soft and fluffy.  The zoo was an amazing experience. Many of the animals are taken in from Customs who have seized the animals from being imported illegally. It’s nice to know these animals will now have a better quality life than the one they were probably destined for. I left 10 Euros in the donation box on top of my entrance fee. A truly amazing experience, one I’ll never forget and all inspired by the book I read, ‘A lion called Christian’.

Photography at the vets was quite challenging as there was only artificial lighting and it was quite dim inside.  Being late afternoon when we visited, the light was quite challenging at times in some other parts of the zoo.  It was fast approaching closing time when we were inside the bird aviary.  You needed to be so careful when walking around as there were baby rabbits and small tortoises on the floor.  A deer licked my legs – it must have liked the salt from my sweat as it was still very warm.  I just had time to feed the lemur before we made our way to the exit.  I would love to go back and visit one day to see how these animals that I held have progressed and how they have grown.  I’ll be sure to let you know if I return and post an update.


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