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The Born Free Legacy

Airs Wednesday, May 21, 2014 at 11 p.m. on KPBS TV

Above: Two roaming African lions as featured in "The Born Free Legacy."

Courtesy of Icon Films

Lions in Rain, Meru National Park, Kenya.

Courtesy of Icon Films

Virginia McKenna at Elsa's grave.

Courtesy of Icon Films

Sir David Attenborough

Courtesy of Icon Films

Tony Fitzjohn at George Adamson’s Grave.

Joy Adamson’s book "Born Free" caused a sensation when it was first published in March 1960. As well as topping the New York Times bestseller list, the book and its later film adaptation made a massive impact on conservation and science.

This program marked the 50th anniversary of "Born Free’s" publication by revisiting the inspirational story of Joy and her husband George, a game warden turned wildlife observationist and author.

The entertaining account of the couple’s experiences and adventures in Africa as they raised orphaned lioness cub Elsa, and their success in training her to survive in the wild, won the hearts of people around the world and completely changed perceptions of human and lion interaction.

The extraordinary relationship between the lioness and her adopted human ‘parents’ caused a seismic shift in popular attitudes towards animals and left a legacy that is as controversial today as it is fondly celebrated.

This compelling documentary was filmed on location in Africa and draws on extraordinary archive footage over the course of 50 years.

It features contributions from their many friends, associates and contemporaries including David Attenborough, naturalist and broadcaster; Virginia McKenna, actress and founder of the Born Free Foundation; Desmond Morris, zoologist and author; Tony Fitzjohn, George Adamson’s assistant (1971–1988) and field director of the George Adamson Wildlife Preservation Trust; and Adrian House, publisher, biographer and friend of the Adamsons.

"The Born Free Legacy" gives a remarkable insight into the personal lives and work of a couple who left an ongoing legacy to the natural world.

An Icon Films production for BBC (2010)

Video

The Born Free Legacy Preview

The Born Free Legacy from Icon Films on Vimeo.