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New exhibition sees 25 life-sized lions invade London’s South Bank

A pride of lions have made their home in Waterloo to raise awareness for animal conservation.

It looks like London has a thing for lions – whether they be roaming around Regent’s Park Zoo, standing guard beneath Nelson’s column, or singing on stage in the West End.

Evidently the city is the perfect place for Born Free’s new outdoor exhibition, which has erected 25 bronze big cats in Millennium Green, just a short walk from Waterloo station.

Born Free is a wildlife charity that fights to improve the welfare of wild animals. It was founded in 1984 by Virginia McKenna OBE, Will Travers OBE, and Bill Travers MBE. Virginia and Bill were both actors who starred in the 1966 British film Born Free, which tells the true story of Elsa the lioness – who was orphaned as a cub and raised by game warden George Adamson and his wife Joy.

Elsa now proudly stands atop a vintage 4×4 as the centerpiece of the exhibition.

She is not the only sculpture with a story. Each lion was made in the likeness of a well-known wild cat. One of the cuter additions is a cub called Christian who was sold in 1969 by Harrods (back when the department store had an exotic pet shop) and later returned to the wild by the aforementioned George Adamson.

Designed by Gillie and Marc Schattner, the exhibition titled Born Free Forever kickstarts the charities ‘Year of the Lion’. Throughout 2022, Born Free hopes to raise awareness and money to help protect these iconic creatures – whose numbers are unfortunately depleting so drastically that they could face extinction in as little as 30 years.

Virginia and Bill’s son Will said of the exhibition…

“Lions face many challenges, both in the wild and in captivity. We simply cannot ignore the declining numbers for a moment longer… I encourage everyone to visit us in London not only to marvel at the exhibition and learn more about the plight of these emblematic and majestic creatures but help us fundraise and campaign so that there is a forever for lions.”

Looking back to the Euros last summer and remembering the choruses of Three Lions echoing through the streets of London, hopefully this is a cause the city and whole country can get behind.

If you would like to visit the exhibition, Elsa and company will be prowling the plains of Millennium Green until March 2022. When sharing any photos you take, don’t forget to include the hashtags #BornFreeForever #LovetheLast and #ForeverLions.


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