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Sawyer, 'The Lion King', Visits ‘Born Free Forever’ Edinburgh

This week, Sawyer decided to start his Halloween celebrations a little early. However, while he had a roaring good time, his cosplay was all done to help spread the message about an important cause.

Sawyer doing his best impression of a lion in an attempt to impress his new friends 'Virginia and Bill'' (read more about the humans who inspired them below).

In the past, Sawyer has demonstrated that he is really a ‘Lion King’ at heart. His connection to the Kings of the Jungle shone through again on his recent visit to a very special sculpture exhibition currently on display here in Edinburgh.

The beautiful lion sculptures that you see throughout this article are part of the ‘Born Free Forever’ public art exhibition created by world famous sculptors- Gillie and Marc in collaboration with the ‘Born Free’ animal charity.

Specifically, Gillie and Marc started a global campaign called, ‘Love the Last’, which, as stated on the website, is a “social movement driven by public art to raise awareness, funds and support for some of the world’s most endangered species. Monumental artists, Gillie and Marc, want to create sculptures all around the world that tell the stories of these endangered species to drive positive change and ensure these animals don’t leave us forever”.

Therefore, Gillie’s and Marc’s collaboration with the Born Free charity was a perfect fit. The ‘Born Free’ website outlines that they're "an animal charity that’s passionate about wild animal welfare and Compassionate Conservation. Founded by Virginia McKenna OBE, Will Travers OBE and Bill Travers MBE in 1984, we work tirelessly to stop the exploitation and suffering of individual animals living in captivity or in the wild. From the start, we’ve campaigned for a future where animals and people can co-exist and where threatened and endangered species are protected for generations to come”.

"Would you two like to be my new friends?"

The ‘Born Free Forever’ art installation was inspired by the true story and the film ‘Born Free’ (1966). According to 'Born Free', "in Northern Kenya, a game warden called George Adamson was sent to deal with a lion who killed a man. Finding three cubs that were left behind he took them home to his wife, Joy, naming them Big One, Lastika and Elsa. They raised the cubs themselves rehoming two at a zoo. But they had formed a special connection with Elsa. They decided to release her to the wild and started the difficult journey of teaching her to fend for herself. After a lot of setbacks including a lack of hunting skills, being attacked by a warthog, and even becoming seriously injured after a different attack, Elsa found her feet. With a lot of hard work and dedication, they taught her how to be a wild cat and set her free in Kenya. Elsa grew to have cubs of her own, starting a new generation of lions that would have never been”.

Below, you can see a sculpture of Elsa standing on a 1961 Land Rover. On the ground surrounding her are her cubs, 20 in total, that “symbolise hope for future generations of lions. The installation aims to raise awareness and funds to save wild lions and their wild habitat before it’s too late”.

10 of the lion cub sculptures are named after real lions rescued and cared for by Born Free in its South African and Ethiopian sanctuaries, and the other 10 are available for sponsorship. Sawyer was thrilled to meet them and would like to introduce you to some of his new friends.

Meet Nelson who was rescued from a bankrupt zoo in France, in 2015. He now lives happily at Born Free's big cat sanctuary in South Africa.

Meet Louga who performed in a French circus until his rescue in May 2018. He will soon live at Born Free's big cat sanctuary in South Africa.

Meet Iman who was stolen from the wild and destined for the pet trade. She was rescued in 2019 and now lives in Born Free's sanctuary in Ethiopia.

Meet King who was rescued from a Paris apartment where he was being kept as a pet. He now lives in the sanctuary in South Africa. His statue is located in St. Andrew Square.

It looks like Sawyer wants to be just like his new friends- he's even in step with them.

‘Born Free Forever’ was first unveiled in London in January 2022. They have been on a tour of the UK and are currently in Edinburgh in the Meadows (postcode- EH8 9LJ) including a ‘mini-pride’ of 3 lion statues in St. Andrew Square until January 2023.

Here are more friends Sawyer met in St. Andrew Square:

Sawyer- and all of us at the Wee Walking Tours family- hope that his visit has brought awareness to the crucial conservation and animal welfare work being done by both the ‘Love the Last’ project and the ‘Born Free’ animal charity. Hopefully, you are also inspired to donate. Head over to the ‘Born Free’ website to learn how you can help them save the lions.

Until next time- Explore & Discover!


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