I have a lump in my throat after viewing this video. I went to google Christian the Lion and came across this article. Now this is a story that's worth keeping and I'm storing it here. There are many versions of the tale of Christian but this one was written in the the most gleeful, cheeky, charming and tearful manner. A narration by Victoria Moore.
Christian, the lion who lived in my London living room
He travelled by Bentley, ate in fine London restaurants and spent his days lounging in a furniture shop. The story of Christian the pet lion - and his eventual release into the wild - is as moving as it is incredible.
The furniture shop was on the King's Road in London. It sold tables, wardrobes, chairs and desks - but anybody peering through its plate-glass window on a Sunday might have noticed something rather more unusual.
Amid all the pine and oak, stretched out languidly on a bench, there was a lion. And it wasn't stuffed.
"Christian used to lie beside me while I did the accounts at weekends," remembers Jennifer Mary Taylor, who worked there.
"And every so often, if I'd ignored him for too long, he'd sock me across the head with one of his great big paws.
"He was very loving and affectionate - he liked to stand and put his paws on your shoulders. But he was...", she pauses. "I mean, he was a lion. Does that sound silly?"
Christian the lion (named by someone with a Biblical sense of humour) arrived in Chelsea at a time when the King's Road - home to Mick Jagger - was the very heart of the Swinging Sixties.
For a year, the Big Cat was part of it all, cruising the streets in the back of a Bentley, popping in for lunch at Casserole, a local restaurant, even posing for a Biba fashion advert.
He eventually grew too big to be kept as a pet and was taken to Kenya, where he was rehabilitated into the wild by the 'Lion Man', George Adamson.
Now, his story is to be told in a new book, written by the Australian John Rendall who, along with his friend Ace Berg, bought Christian from Harrods in 1969.
So what possessed them to buy a lion cub in the first place?
"A friend had been to the 'exotic animals' department at Harrods and announced, rather grandly, that she wanted a camel," says Rendall.
"To which the manager very coolly replied: 'One hump or two, madam?'
"Ace and I thought this was the most sophisticated repartee we'd ever heard, so we went along to check it out - and there, in a small cage, was a gorgeous little lion cub. We were shocked. We looked at each other and said something's got to be done about that."
Harrods, it turned out, was also quite keen to be rid of Christian, who had escaped one night, sneaked into the neighbouring carpet department - then in the throes of a sale of goatskin rugs - and wreaked havoc.
The store, which had acquired the cub from Ilfracombe zoo, happily agreed to part with him for 250 guineas. So began Christian's year as an urban lion.
Today, it would be unthinkable for a shop to take such a cavalier attitude towards selling exotic animals (though Harrods did, at least, provide Ace and Rendall with diet sheets).
And it is hard to imagine either the animal rights lobby or any local council condoning a shop as a suitable habitat for a lion. But, back then, no one minded at all.
Christian was given his own living quarters (and a very large kitty-litter tray, which he used unfailingly) in the basement of the appropriately named Sophistocat furniture shop.
"He had a beautiful musky smell that was very distinct," says Rendall. "But he was clean."
The vicar of the Moravian Chapel nearby was approached to allow Christian the run of the graveyard, and every day he was taken there to roar around and play football.
Once, when he was brought along to a seaside picnic, he dipped his toes reluctantly in the water and intimated with a shudder that it was disagreeably cold. But he was eventually persuaded to swim in the English Channel.
"He was a lot of work," says Rendall. "It took all four of us - me, my then girlfriend Jennifer Mary, Ace Berg and an actress called Unity Jones - to look after him.
"He also ate a lot, four meals (two liquid, two solid) plus supplements every day, which cost about £30 a week - a lot of money back then."
He pauses, then adds, "And he had a very good sense of humour."
"Oh yes. Sometimes, he'd see people staring at him through the back window of the car, keep very still on purpose - and then, just when they were convinced he was a stuffed toy, he would very slowly turn his head and freak them out."
Everyone loved Christian and he became a popular local figure. In 1970, when Chelsea beat Leeds in the FA Cup Final, Sophistocat received a call from a policeman, 'The football fans are going to be boisterous, so you'd better get your bloody lion out of the window or they'll smash it in,' he warned.
Christian himself was beautifully behaved, and though he never hurt anyone, you underestimated his strength at your peril.
Jennifer Mary remembers taking a friend to see him, "after I'd had one or two glasses of wine -and when he put his paws on my shoulders, one of them slipped, his claw caught my dress and he pulled the whole front of it off."
He grew and grew - from 35lb when he first arrived to a rather more serious and imposing 185lb a year later - and he was beginning to acquire a mane that made him look more fearsome. He clearly could not stay with his two young owners for ever.
His future was decided by a chance encounter - when the actors Bill Travers and Virginia McKenna walked into the shop to buy a pine desk.
They had recently starred in the film Born Free, which tells the true story of the wildlife conservationist George Adamson and his wife Joy, who raised a lion cub called Elsa in Kenya then rehabilitated it into the wild.
Certainly, the conservationist was intrigued by the challenge of introducing a King's Road lion to the wilds of Africa.