Tuesday, January 18, 2011

In the shadow of Elsa...

Neither Joe nor I can remember a time when we didn't know the story of Elsa, the orphaned lion raised by Joy and George Adamson in Africa in the late fifties, made into a film in 1966. Given when we were born, we grew up deep in the Elsa story, this beautiful story in which a lion and two humans clearly share a deep affection for each other. But we'd forgotten the source of our true love for animals until last night when we so happily, tearfully watched the excellent PBS Nature special, "Elsa's Legacy: The Born Free Story."

As a child, I only knew the movie "Born Free," not the real people behind the story. Born Free + regular watching of the tv show "Daktari," featuring Clarence the cross-eyed lion, fed and grew my animal-passion, one that drives me to this day..

Mostly as I watched last night, I felt that deep yearning to know the feeling of a lion's head pushing against me. What would that be like, to feel that bond to such an enormous, gorgeous animal, to have your love returned in that precise lion-y way?  So unscientific, but really, don't we all want to be friends with animals?

What a debt of gratitude I owe to the Adamsons, and to Virgina McKenna and Bill Travers, who played the Adamsons in the film "Born Free" and went on to found The Born Free Foundation.  Thank you!

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