25 life-size bronze lions have been exhibited in Edinburgh to raise awareness of the plight of animal populations in the wild.
A cat sculpture representing the story of a real-life lion, from Christian, the lion purchased from the Harrods department store in London and successfully returned to the wild in Kenya, to Cora, was saved from horrible conditions in a Spanish zoo and now lives in a sanctuary in South Africa.
The majority of them can be found in Meadows, but three members of the pride will be on display in the gardens of St Andrew’s Square to give visitors in the city center a chance to observe them.
The artists behind the free exhibition, Born Free Forever, are the internationally recognized British and Australian Gillie and Marc Schattner.
The couple is known for their abstract animal, human-animal and abstract sculptures, which have been exhibited as public works of art around the world.
They said: “The bronze lions represent the future generation of lions that can be created with hard work, dedication and lots of love.
“Lions are an important part of our national identity and personify British qualities; strength, courage and pride.
“If wild lions go extinct, we will lose a part of ourselves.”
The instillation is organized by wildlife charity Born Free, which organizes a campaign to “keep wildlife in the wild.”
At its center is the lioness Elsa on top of a 4×4 vehicle, an image inspired by the much-loved 1966 film Born Free, featuring the organization’s co-founders from Virginia McKenna and her late husband Bill Travers.
It tells the story of an orphaned lioness who is raised to adulthood and released into the wilds of Kenya.
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When the film was made, there were about 200,000 lions in the wild across Africa.
Now, the charity claims there are only 20,000 left, a drastic decline that, if not stopped, could make them extinct across much of their wild range within 30 years.
Other members of the bronze pride include Louga, one of Born Free’s Lions Of Lockdown, rescued from a circus in France and rehabilitated at Born Free reserve in Shamwari Private Reserve, South Africa, earlier this year, and Cecil, the lion killed by an American Title Hunter in Zimbabwe in 2015 caused international outrage.
The exhibition comes at a pivotal time for the charity as Mr Travers, who co-wrote Gavin Maxwell’s Ring Of Bright Water, the story of a man and an otter exploring the countryside village of Scotland, also starring Ms. McKenna, would have turned 100 this year if not for his death in 1994.
The Forever Lions Foundation, founded in his memory, will use the proceeds from the show and other donations to help protect wild lions, resolve human conflicts and predators, take care of rescued lions and prevent lion slaughter for trophies and as part of ‘canned’ lion hunting (killing lions in captivity).
Each statue is purchasable, with all funding going to charity.
Ms McKenna said: “I am delighted to be bringing our beautiful lion exhibit, Born Free Forever, to Scotland, a country that holds a special place in my heart as it is where in 1969, my late husband Bill and I worked together. Bringing Gavin Maxwell’s magical story, Ring Of Bright Water to the big screen.
“I have been back many times, most recently in the summer of 2021.
“Tragically, since that time, wild lion populations have declined catastrophically – and Born Free is determined to do something about it.
“That is why I urge everyone who can to visit this incredible exhibit and discover why this magnificent pride of lions means so much to us. with BornFree.
“Each one has a unique and powerful true story.
“Through those individual stories, visitors will learn about the plight of captive lions, the challenges they face in the wild – where they belong – and all of them. What can we do to help?
“I am delighted that Edinburgh is hosting this beautiful exhibition and I hope people of all ages will come to share the experience and become part of our Born Free Family.”
The exhibition will be on display in the Scottish capital for three months.
https://www.independent.ie/entertainment/pride-of-life-sized-bronze-lions-go-on-display-in-edinburgh-42044327.html Pride of life-size bronze lions on display in Edinburgh