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George Adamson 1906-1989

Country : Dholpur, Rajasthan, India
Profession : Game preserve manager
Date of birth : 1906-02-03
Date of death : 1989-08-20
Cause of Death : Murder

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George Adamson (3 February 1906 - 20 August 1989), the "Baba ya Simba" ("Father of Lions") of Africa, was one of the founding fathers of wildlife conservation and an author. He and his wife Joy Adamson are best known through the book and film Born Free, which is based on the true story of Elsa, an orphaned lioness cub they raised and later released into the wild.

Adamson was born in Dholpur, Rajasthan, India (then British India). He first visited Kenya in 1924. After a series of adventures, which included time as a gold prospector, goat trader, and professional safari hunter, he joined Kenya's game department in 1938 and was Senior Game Warden of the Northern Frontier District. Six years later he married Joy. It was in 1956 that he came to have Elsa the lioness who would gain world fame and affection.

George Adamson retired as a game warden in 1961 and devoted himself to his many lions. In 1970, he moved to the Kora National Reserve in northern Kenya to continue the rehabilitation of captive or orphaned big cats for eventual reintroduction into the wild. George and Joy separated in 1970, but continued to spend Christmas together until she was murdered on January 3rd, 1980.

On 20 August 1989, the 83-year-old Adamson was shot to death at Kora Reserve by Somalian bandits when he went to the aid of a tourist. He is buried at the reserve next to the lion Boy.

Film / Television

Born Free

In 1966, James Hill directed the award winning film Born Free, based on a best selling book of the same title written by Joy Adamson. It stars Virginia McKenna as Joy Adamson and Bill Travers as George Adamson. George Adamson served as Chief Technical Advisor on the film. This movie tells the true story of Elsa the much loved lioness and her transformation from a cub to a free living lioness.

Living Free

A sequel to Born Free, finds the dying Elsa, now a mother herself, returning to the Adamsons, who must figure out what to do with Elsa's three cubs. Stars Nigel Davenport as George Adamson, and Susan Hampshire as Joy Adamson.

Born Free (TV)

A short-lived television series (1974), strictly fiction, loosely based on the lives of George and Joy Adamson. Starred Gary Collins and Diana Muldaur.

The Lions Are Free

a true-life sequel to Born Free, This film tells in a most personal way about what happened to the lions that were in the movie Born Free. Bill Travers who played the role of George Adamson in the movie Born Free, travels to a remote area in Kenya East Africa to visit conservationist George Adamson and several of George's lion friends. This film has some incredible scenes of George and Bill interacting with lions who are living free. James Hill who directed Born Free produced this film along with Bill Travers. In November 2006 this film and the film Christian The Lion At World's End were both released on DVD.

Christian the Lion

is the true life story of Christian the lion and his journey from London England to Kenya East Africa to live a free life with conservationist George Adamson of Born Free fame and to join other wild lions. It is a remarkable story of trust, affection and friendship between humans and lions. It is written, produced and directed by Bill Travers, star of Born Free, and James Hill, the director of Born Free. In November 2006 this film and the film The Lions Are Free were both released on DVD.

An Elephant Called Slowly

Travelogue featuring George Adamson and starring his friends Bill Travers and Virginia McKenna. Also featuring elephants named Pole Pole and Eleanor.

To Walk with Lions

This 1999 film is the dramatic continuation of George Adamson's (Richard Harris) fight to save Kenya's wildlife. Together with his young assistant Tony Fitzjohn (John Michie), Adamson battles to keep the animals on his game reserve Kora from dangerous poachers and shifta warriors who are determined to hunt rhinos and elephants for their tusks, and lions for their rich pelts.


  • Bwana Game (1968): George's 1st autobiography (A Lifetime With Lions in the US)
  • My Pride and Joy (1987): George's 2nd autobiography
  • George Adamson (1991) by Sandy Gall
  • The Great Safari (1993) by Adrian House

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