Virginia McKenna opens the Born Free exhibition in London

Born Free star Virginia McKenna opened a life-size bronze lion exhibit to raise awareness of the plight of animals.

The actress and wildlife activist, 90, starred in the 1966 film, which was set in Kenya, alongside her late husband Bill Travers and now runs The Born Free Foundation.

She opened the open-air exhibition at Waterloo Millennium Green in London alongside her eldest son Will, during the week in which her husband is said to have celebrated his 100th birthday.

Born Free Forever Exhibition
A visitor looks at lion sculptures at the Born Free Forever exhibit (Dominic Lipinski / PA)

Travers died in 1994 of coronary thrombosis at the age of 72.

They were also joined by Born Free patrons, presenter Gaby Roslin, Olympic athlete Sally Gunnell and author Lauren St John.

Created by artists Gillie and Marc Schattner, the exhibition aims to raise awareness and fundraise for lion conservation, as well as to celebrate Elsa the lioness, the inspiration and symbol of the association.

Its centerpiece features Elsa standing atop a 4 × 4 surrounded by lions and cubs.

Orphaned while still a cub, Elsa was raised in the Netherlands and successfully returned to the wild by George and Joy Adamson, where she had her own cubs.

Born Free Forever Exhibition
Virginia McKenna (Dominic Lipinski / AP)

The exhibit also includes sculptures of Christian, a lion cub purchased from Harrods and returned to the wild, and King, a lion rescued from the exotic animal trade by the foundation and now residing in its sanctuary in South Africa.

There is also a sculpture of Cecil, a 13-year-old lion who was killed by an American big game hunter and dentist in Zimbabwe in 2015, while the animal was the subject of a long-term research program. by the University of Oxford.

Will Travers, executive chairman and co-founder of the foundation, said, “Lions face many challenges, both in the wild and in captivity.

“We just can’t ignore the falling numbers for just a moment longer.

“This outdoor, life-size bronze sculpture exhibition featuring iconic lions, including Elsa on top of a 4 × 4, tells the real stories behind the issues they face.

“I encourage everyone to visit us in London not only to marvel at the exhibit and learn more about the plight of these iconic and majestic creatures, but also to help us fundraise and campaign. so that there may be an eternity for the lions. “

Gillie and Marc Schattner said, “The Bronze Bears symbolize future generations of lions who can be created with hard work, dedication and a lot of love.

“The lion is a big part of our national identity and personifies the qualities of what it is to be British; strength, courage and pride. If the wild lions were to disappear, we would lose a part of ourselves. “

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