Sunday, June 5, 2011

Christian, the Hugging Lion by Justin Richardson, Peter Parnell and Amy June Bates

This picture book is based on a true story and it rather horrifies me to learn that in 1969, a three-month-old lion cub was for sale in the exotic pet department at Harrods in London. A gay couple, Ace and John, bought the lion, called it Christian, and kept it in their apartment for a year, then brought it to a place in Kenya where it was rehabilitated successfully into the wild. The men missed him and returned to see him a couple of times.

Lions are the most social of all cats. The special thing that Christian used to do was to hug people, and he even did this when Ace and John visited him in Africa. Kinda cool to see it captured on video: . (I suggest muting the obnoxious music.)

Authors Richardson and Parnell also wrote And Tango Makes Three, which is a fabulous book. Christian, the Hugging Lion is aimed at the same preschool to Grade 2 audience, but it begs for additional discussion about the ethics of wild animals kept as pets.

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