Tag Archives: Born Free

List-It: The Achievements of Naturalist Joy Adamson

“Since we humans have the better brain, isn’t it our responsibility to protect our fellow creatures from, oddly enough, ourselves?” – Joy Adamson

106 years ago to this day, Friederike Victoria Gessner, more famously known as Joy Adamson, was born. An author, painter, and animal activist, Joy Adamson spent the majority of her life educating the world about the importance of preserving wildlife, specifically that in Africa.

Photo Via: Wikipedia.com

A strong-willed woman with a passion for animals, she lived in Kenya for nearly 4 decades with her equally famous wildlife conservationist husband, George Adamson. Together, the two fought for wildlife preservation and inspired the world with their work with big game in Africa.

As we celebrate what would’ve been Joy Adamson’s 106th birthday, we look back on her greatest achievements in the natural world.

 Her Rehabilitating of Animals – What is probably the Adamson’s most notorious accomplishment, and one that would gain them world-wide recognition, was their work with rehabilitating animals back into the wild, specifically the lioness Elsa. In 1956, after her mother was shot by George Adamson in self-defense, the Adamsons took in little cub Elsa.

Joy and George then spent the next years raising Elsa, training her to become a self-relying lioness, and eventually releasing her back into the wild where she went on to have 3 cubs of her own. Through her experiences Joy stated that Elsa “became almost like my child. Because I had no children, I have spent all my emotion on her and my other animals. But I cannot make them my own.”

Photo Via: fatheroflions.org

Elsa and Joy – Photo Via: fatheroflions.org

Chronicling their work with Elsa and her cubs in three books (which all eventually had movies made about them), Joy Adamson inspired millions around the world and taught the importance of preserving wildlife, and keeping the animals in their natural environments.

After Elsa and her cubs, Joy Adamson went on to adopt a young cheetah named Pippa, who was previously being used as a house pet. Adamson did the same with Pippa as she had done with Elsa and trained her to survive on her own in the wild, eventually releasing Pippa as well. Joy continued studying and working with all sorts of African animals including elephants, buffaloes, colobus monkeys, and leopards.

Her Writings – What helped Joy Adamson to inspire the world about Africa and its animals was undoubtedly her writings. Throughout the years she published many books about the different animals she rehabilitated, along with books of her drawings and sketches of African wildlife and plants.

Joy Adamson’s most popular book, Born Free (which she writes about her experience with Elsa), earned her a great amount of recognition and success that because of it, she was able to focus on raising money for wildlife conservation.

Born Free, along with the two sequels Living Free and Forever Free (both which Joy continues the story of Elsa and her cubs), were all made into movies. The actors of the films, Virginia McKenna and Bill Travers, were so inspired by the roles they played and the real life work Joy and George Adamson did, that they eventually founded the Born Free Foundation in the United Kingdom which helps support wildlife conservation.

Her Wildlife Preservation – Joy Adamson’s passion and love for animals was obvious with her activism. Setting off on an international tour in 1962, Joy preached the importance of wildlife conservation, and the damage that illegal poaching was doing to Africa and its animal inhabitants, especially in her adopted home of Kenya.

Joy also went on to create the Elsa Wild Animal Appeal, and her work with animals, especially Elsa, helped inspire many more conservation organizations. She spent her remaining years giving the proceeds she earned from her books to many preservation organizations and using it to secure the conservation of animals and wildlife.

Photo Via: pbs.org

It’s no doubt the lengths and efforts Joy Adamson went to protect and preserve animals and their environment. Tragically, both Joy and George were murdered (separate incidents and years – Joy in 1980 by an employee, and George in 1989 by poachers), so both of their work was cut short.

However, the impact they had on animal activism still lives on today. Because of Joy Adamson and her work, writings, and contributions, the world is just a little bit more understanding of the plight wildlife must face at the hands of humans. We must continue her work, and remember her words: “Wildlife is something which man cannot construct. Once it is gone, it is gone forever. Man can rebuild a pyramid, but he can’t rebuild ecology, or a giraffe.”

So, Happy Birthday, Joy. And thank you for the impact you made on the animal kingdom.

*Sources: Notablebiographies.com, Biography.com, Encyclopedia.com, Wikipedia.org*
*Note: The article above was written by © Kalie Lyn, 2016*

Born Free [Book Review]

Relationships cross many different species, and animal-human relationships may be the most special. For today’s “Book Review Thursday”, Animal Culture would like to share a very special book about a human-lion relationship.

First, however, we would like to share one of our favorite videos, just to get the heart pumping and the tears flowing. *Note: The shirtless guy in the end of the video is George Adamson, the husband of the below book’s author, Joy Adamson.*

Happy Reading, All!

Title: Born Free: A Lioness of Two Worlds

Author: Joy Adamson

Synopsis: “Joy Adamson’s story of a lion cub in transition between the captivity in which she is raised and the fearsome wild to which she is returned captures the abilities of both humans and animals to cross the seemingly unbridgeable gap between their radically different worlds. Especially now, at a time when the sanctity of the wild and its inhabitants is increasingly threatened by human development and natural disaster, Adamson’s remarkable tale is an idyll, and a model, to return to again and again.” 

ISBN: 0375714383

Born Free: A Lioness of Two Worlds (Story of Elsa, #1)


The Adamsons – Joy and George – became recognized from the hit book, A Lion Called Christian, in which they had helped rehabilitate Christian, a pet lion, back into the wild (see video above).  However, their work with lions did not start with Christian, and Born Free takes you back to the beginning.

And it all began with Elsa.  Born Free is the account and adventure of lioness Elsa’s life, and the difficult task Elsa provided for her human parents, Joy (the author) and George (her husband) Adamson.  Raised by the Adamsons since she was a baby, Elsa treated them as her lion pride, and they treated her as their child, however never forgetting the fact that she was a wild lion.  Her life with them flew by as she grew from a cub into a full-size, and eventually a wild, lioness.

The story itself is touching, and it transports you through its writing.  Joy Adamson has written quite a few books, and her written language reads like she is having a face-to-face conversation with the reader.  Her writing flows, and it feels as if you are experiencing Elsa’s life with the Adamsons.  Joy is a professional painter and photographer as well, and her beautiful pictures of Elsa, Africa, and the unlikely family’s adventures are scattered throughout the pages, which makes it an even more intriguing read.  The ending of the book, which is comprised of letters from George to Joy, adds an even more personal touch to the readers.  

Animal stories have a way of providing a different perspective to the world – especially if they are true – and Born Free is one of those books that will touch your heart and stay in your mind for a while after it is read. The ending of the book, and ultimately the Adamson’s time with Elsa, made the entire book worth it, and you will walk away with tears in your eyes and a happy heart.

Purchase it at Amazon.com here: Born Free

Have you read this book? What was your take on it? Join the discussion below!

*Note: The synopsis was taken from Goodreads.com. The review was written by © Kalie Lyn 2011, originally published on her personal blog, Palm Trees & Bare Feet.*