Until the end of next month, there’s a large pride of lions lounging around in a park next to Waterloo station.

What’s the pride of lions doing in such an urban landscape? They’re bronze sculptures installed here to raise awareness and money for the Born Free charity.

Two pairs of very large lions dominate the group, along with many more lounging around the rest of the Millenium Green. Each of the lions in the exhibition represents a real-life lion, from Christian, the cub purchased from Harrods and successfully returned to the wild, to Makena, the Kenyan lioness living in the Born Free-supported Meru National Park, now with cubs of her own. And King, the lion Born Free rescued from the exotic pet trade, now given lifetime care at their sanctuary in South Africa, along with Louga, rescued from the circus, and Cora, saved from appalling conditions in a Spanish zoo.

Most dramatic though is the lion standing proud above the rest on a half-sunken Land Rover. That’s not just a random Land Rover though, it’s the one that featured in the 1966 movie Born Free, and the lion on top is Elsa, the lion that featured in the story.

The 25 life-sized lions were cast in bronze by artists Gillie and Marc, and the display marks the start of the charity’s ‘Year of the Lion‘ activities, which will run throughout 2022, and raise money for the new Forever Lions Fund, set up in Bill Travers’s memory to support their lions conservation work.

The display will be at Millenium Green, opposite the Old Vic theatre until the end of March, and will then travel to Newcastle and Edinburgh.

Just ignore the pigeon poo on some of the lions, a hazard they are not likely to face in Africa.


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