George Adamson and Bill Travers in Meru, Kenya

Photo: © Virginia McKenna/

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George Adamson (left) with Bill in Meru, Kenya
"George Adamson was born in India and came to England and eventually wound up in Kenya, where he became a game warden and met his wife, Joy. It was around this time that Elsa, the lion in Born Free, came into their lives.

"When my husband and I agreed to play the Adamsons, we didn't really know what we were going to let ourselves in for, but we're both people who enjoy adventure and challenge, and we thought it sounded amazing. We found ourselves sometime later on a boat with our three children going to Mombasa on the east coast of Kenya and then traveling up country to a place called Nyeri.

"George was invited to be the lion man on the set of the film, and we had the most fantastic collection of lions that came from all over the country. He showed us, by example, how to behave with them and how to form a friendship. It was the best way to tell the story of Born Free, which is a story of love and affection and trust between two humans and a lioness. With a trained animal, it would have been quite artificial, I think.

"George also became a great friend of ours. My husband and he were very, very close indeed. They remained so until he was killed in 1989."
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