Lion Called Christian

Lion Called Christian by Anthony Bourke Read Free Book Online

Book: Lion Called Christian by Anthony Bourke Read Free Book Online
Authors: Anthony Bourke
Suddenly he was more widely known, and there was much more curiosity about him, although the people who interviewed us seemed disappointed that owning a lion was less complicated than they had expected. The photographs they published were always of Christian yawning, with his teeth bared, and of course they appeared as vicious snarls. The publicity was good for Sophistocat, but we realized that if it was to continue we had to have control over the photographs published so that Christian could at least be portrayed accurately. We met a photographer, Derek Cattani, who got on well with Christian, and a pictorial record of his life in London began. The newspapers were quite welcome to buy a photograph if they wanted one.
    People contacted us about wanting to use Christian in television commercials or for various promotional purposes. He was such an expense for us that we were prepared to be mildly commercial, providing he suffered no stress or discomfort. He liked outings and enjoyed his few sporadic "jobs," but in general lie had a regular routine and a very stable life. He did a Nights on the Wild Side photo shoot for fashion magazine Vanity Fair , advertising nightgowns. It was easy work, for he was just required to lie on a bed with a beautiful model and be photographed. The caption read:
Beware the man-hunting feline! Some stalk their prey in the jungle; others play pussy at home in lounging lingerie that clings and ripples with the same cat-like grace. Our lingerie isn't meant for lonesome evenings--put it on when you're planning to pounce, and if he doesn't, then get another cat for company!
    Christian always enjoyed chewing hair, and the model had masses of it. He planned to pounce, and she became rather frightened and was actually heard to say: "My face is my fortune"! Restrained, Christian bit a hole in the goat-skin bedspread and destroyed two satin pillows instead.
    Several months later, the airline BOAG (now British Airways) contacted us. They were opening a new route to Africa and wanted Christian to make a very brief appearance at a promotional event where he created quite a sensation and easily outshone the other African representatives--potted palm trees and avocadoes. He earned thirty guineas, which we paid into his account at the bank. Photographs taken of Christian opening this account appeared in the bank house-journal with the caption "Tough Customer at Chelsea." It was an easy way of pacifying the manager about our overdrafts. We also did a series of Easter photographs for the newspapers, of Christian with six little chickens, and he was amazingly gentle and there were no casualties.
    When he was about seven months old and obviously leaving his cub days behind, there was suddenly again a much greater and more widespread public interest. People were astounded that he was still so easy to manage. Experts from London Zoo and the Feline Advisory Bureau, for example, were astonished at how domesticated and well-behaved Christian was. He was now regarded less as a novelty and more as a London personality owned "by two Australians." We were interviewed by several American and Australian newspapers and broadcasting services.
    Jack de Manio, of the early-morning Today program on BBC Radio, telephoned to invite Christian to be interviewed. At our suggestion he came into Sophistocat to meet Christian beforehand, and we warned him that Christian could be very inarticulate if he was not in the mood, a disadvantage in a radio interview. As Christian had not yet roared, it was unlikely that Jack de Manio's listeners would be treated to his first attempt.
    A car was sent to Sophistocat at 6:30 A.M. the next morning, and the three of us were taken to Broadcasting House. When we arrived the commissionaire blocked our entry to the building and, scarcely glancing at what was on the end of the leash, he challenged:
    "No dogs allowed in here--it's the regulations."
    "Do your regulations extend to lions?" we asked.
    But people do

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