Born Free Foundation - Keep Wildlife in the Wild

The Story So Far...

The Big Day

Virginia McKenna in the lions' den © Andrew Brown

It's Friday 3rd of May, and the day has finally arrived of the Pride of Cape Town charity auction. Ahead of tonight’s illustrious event, there was a photo call with the magnificent pride of lions and the effervescent Virginia McKenna, co-founder of the Born Free Foundation and star of the film that started it all, Born Free.

Date Set For Spectacular Pride Of Cape Town Lion Auction!

It was announced today that the spectacular Pride of Cape Town lions are to be auctioned at a star studded VIP gala evening on the 3rd May at the uber-chic new African restaurant moyo on the V&A Waterfront, in aid of international wildlife charity the Born Free Foundation. The charity’s founder, legendary actress and conservationist Virginia McKenna OBE who starred in the classic film ‘Born Free’ is also set to attend.

The splendid colourful life-size lion sculptures arrived on the Waterfront in March and have proved to be a major hit with tourists and residents alike. Flanked by the iconic Table Mountain and in the heart of Cape Town at the world famous V&A Waterfront, these impressive works of art with their unique eye catching designs have created a huge amount of pleasure and interest for the Cape Town crowd and visitors to this popular area.

Virginia McKenna OBE says, “At last the moment will soon be here when the amazing Pride of Cape Town lions will be “released” into the world, to spread their urgent message. Lion conservation is at a critical moment. The “king of the jungle” is confronted by terrible threats, and the prospect of the lion’s roar being silenced forever is no longer just a thought at the back of one’s mind. This is a challenge we have to win.

I am looking forward so much to returning to the beautiful city of Cape Town that holds many childhood memories for me, and to be joining everyone at the Pride of Cape Town lion auction – raising vital funds for Born Free’s lion protection and conservation work. The lion is our symbol. We have to make sure it is a living one.”

Cape Town’s lions have arrived!

© M.Christian Smith

A spectacular pride of 30 lions have taken to the magnificent V&A Waterfront this weekend as part of the world class, major public arts event Pride of Cape Town in aid of international wildlife charity the Born Free Foundation. 

The unique and splendidly colourful life-size fibreglass lion sculptures will be on display for 8 weeks this summer and will showcase the creativity of Cape Town: its heritage, architecture, regeneration and arts scene, as well as highlight the critical plight of lions in Africa.

The lions have already made international news around the world, with Queen guitar legend Brian May & singing sensation Kerry Ellis flying into Cape Town to announce the lions arrival and South Africa’s platinum selling recording artists, The Parlotones, performing on stage and calling for support.

Pride of Cape Town has a serious message to promote and as the worldwide summit (CITES) takes place in Bangkok, looking at threatened species and trade issues, regrettably, Africa’s lion population will be a topic for discussion. The figures are shocking as Africa has fewer than 25,000 lions, compared to 200,000 fifty years ago, and some 25 African countries no longer have wild lions. At the end of the summer, the lion statues will be auctioned to raise vital funds to help the Born Free Foundation in their crucial work to protect the wild lion.

Virginia McKenna OBE, actress and co-Founder of the Born Free Foundation, who flew to South Africa last year to help launch Pride of Cape Town, said,

What makes this whole event even more important is that it could help protect and conserve wild lions. I do hope everyone who cares about wildlife and, in particular, the future of lions, will want to join us and join in.

The arrival Pride has been eagerly anticipated by Cape Town residents and tourists alike, and is set to be a major highlight for the thousands of visitors who travel to one of the most majestic and scenic destinations in the world.

Flanked by the iconic Table Mountain, the lions will prowl the V&A Waterfront in the historic heart of Cape Town’s working harbour, on a carefully mapped out tourist trail that will take the visitor on an intriguing artistic and cultural journey.

The sculptures have been painted by a host of local and international artists and sponsored by influential individuals and South Africa’s finest companies, who have all pledged their support for Pride of Cape Town.

Sponsors include: Staedtler, Moyo, Land Rover, Chitwa Chitwa, Red Bush Tea, CP Construction, Lions Club International, Coca-Cola, KFM, Novartis, SAA, Grand Café & Beach, Shamwari Group, Mantis Collection, African Inspiration, Laugh it Off, V&A Waterfront, The Parlotones, Phoenix Mercury Trust, and 5FM.

Although all from the same mould, each of the lion statues has been individually designed and decorated to become a unique and eye-catching work of art. The Chitwa Chitwa lion, for example, has been named ‘The Beast’ and is a delicate turquoise colour, decorated with broken glass that makes it sparkle with the light.

Another striking design is ‘Buddy’, the Coca-Cola lion, designed by students from the AAA School of Advertising. Painted bright red and decorated with a bubble design, ‘Buddy’ encapsulates the feel of the popular brand, with a mane formed of bottle caps!

The amazing pride of lions will take to the streets on Saturday 9th March and people are urged to visit the V&A Waterfront to take the trail to discover the works of art.

Pride of Cape Town is being presented in partnership with Wild in Art and Shamwari Group and is kindly supported by the V&A Waterfront.

Freddie Mercury’s Tribute Lion Set to Join Pride of Cape Town!

Freddie the Lion, an eye-catching life-size lion statue designed in the guise of rock legend Freddie Mercury, the iconic frontman of Queen, has arrived in Cape Town. Following an epic voyage by ship from the UK, Freddie has arrived to take part in the spectacular ‘Pride of Cape Town’ event later this week.

The impressive fibreglass Freddie Mercury ‘lookalike’, painted in Freddie’s iconic Live Aid white and yellow striped jacket and trousers, will become part of a pride of 30 lion statues taking to the V&A waterfront in aid of international wildlife charity, the Born Free Foundation this Saturday.

Before his departure for sunny Cape Town, Freddie the Lion attended the ‘Freddie For a Day’ event (in aid of the Mercury Phoenix Trust) at the world famous Savoy hotel in London, where he was pictured with celebrity friends including Queen’s legendary guitarist Brian May and music icon Tom Jones, all wishing him a fond farewell before setting off for South Africa.

Pride of Cape Town was officially launched last year by Brian May, singing sensation Kerry Ellis and star of the classic film ‘Born Free’, Virginia McKenna, at a lavish event at the Grand Café and Beach in Granger Bay. 

Brian May said, “It's good to see this maginificent and unique Mercurial lion, as a reminder of the great legacy left by Freddie, and to know that it will make a great contribution to saving Lions in Africa."

Kerry Ellis said, ”I think the Freddie Lion will be a real show stopper! Pride of Cape Town is going to be a fabulous showcase for some great art and a fantastic way for people to learn more about the desperate plight of wild lions.”

With Freddie creating quite a buzz, the excitement is building ahead of the lions taking to the streets on Saturday. There are still exciting sponsorship opportunities available and numerous businesses are getting involved in the project including leading companies such as Shamwari Game Reserve, Staedtler, Chitwa Chitwa and Lions Club International and Land Rover. Born Free have advised companies that there is still time to get on board with sponsorship opportunities available to become a part of this amazing spectacle, the first of its kind in South Africa.

All proceeds from the sale of the lions will go towards Born Free’s work to protect and conserve wild lions. Lion numbers have dropped dramatically in recent years due to persecution, loss of habitat and unsustainable trophy-hunting. Their position has never been more perilous and today there may be as few as 25,000 left across the entire continent. The Born Free Foundation already has long-established links with South Africa and operates Big Cat Rescue and Education Centres at the prestigious Shamwari Game Reserve in the Eastern Cape, as well as working in the field across the continent to stop the persecution of lions in their natural habitat.

Final Touches

Over the last few months the Lions' Den has been awash with colour, with artists doing there best to get the lions ready to go out on parade on the 9th of March.

It's not too late to Sponsor a lion. Find out how you can get involved on our sponsors page

AAA students work on the Coca-Cola lion
Carey working on her lion
Paul Senyol Lion
Staedtler Lion

Lions' Den Opening

© M.Christian Smith

‘Multiplatinum-selling rock band The Parlotones launched the next stage of Pride of Cape Town on Sunday 13th January ahead of their much-anticipated performance at Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden. In advance of going on stage in front of the home crowd, the band made a star appearance at the official opening of the ‘Lions’ Den’ on the famous V & A Waterfront, which will serve as a workshop and activity centre for the painting of over 30 life-size lion statues, set to prowl the Waterfront in March through to May this year for the Pride of Cape Town event.

The Parlotones have even created their own lion for the event, named ‘Hollish’, which accompanied The Parlotones for his live debut on stage at Kirstenbosch. A famed artist in his own right, drummer Neil Pauw designed and painted their lion statue in an exciting red, yellow and black abstract design.

Neil said, “It is really exciting to be on board with this great project and we will be asking for our fans and the people of Cape Town to join us and support this spectacular event and to drop by the ‘Lions’ Den’ - if they’re brave enough!”

May and Ellis Roar in for Pride of Cape Town Launch

As the sun set on the Grand Café & Beach close to the historic V&A Waterfront, the atmosphere was electric, as May, using all his mastery, struck the first chords of the first of three tracks performed on the night. Alongside May’s hypnotic guitar came glamorous songstress Kerry Ellis, with her glorious power-packed and pure vocals.

First performed was ’I Loved a Butterfly’, an upbeat melodic track from Brian and Kerry’s ‘Anthems’ album. Then to the delight of the Cape Town crowd came a beautiful acoustic version of the John Barry and Don Black classic ‘Born Free’. After rapturous applause the ecstatic audience were further treated to Queen classic ‘Crazy Little Thing Called Love’ as an encore and to complete the set.

Brian said, “It was a magical evening and Kerry and I really loved playing in such an intimate venue and at such a stunning location, everyone there seemed to really enjoy it. Importantly, they loved the lions and we have been inundated with people and companies wanting to sponsor them.”

The invited audience were there to see the first unveiling of a selection of the Pride of Cape Town fibreglass lion sculptures that will take to the V&A Waterfront in Summer next year and showcase the project to individuals and businesses wishing to come on board and sponsor a lion.

Four spectacular lions were showcased, sponsored by Land Rover, Redbush Tea, SAA (South African Airways) and the Grand Café & Beach.

The Land Rover Design team in Gaydon chose a geometrically creative design with vehicle-based outlines. Redbush produced a tea bag inspired art work created by Original T -Bag Designs at Hout bay, detailing traditional Xhosa art. SAA opted for a bright red lion and blue mane with a worldwide travel theme and the Grand Africa lion looked regal with its golden crown filled with vibrant red flowers.

There was also an announcement made on the night about the ‘People’s Lion’, where everyone who makes a donation great or small will have their name inscribed on that particular lion.  

Kerry said, “Be part of something special and make a big difference, send what you can.”

Virginia McKenna summed it up, “It was one of the most memorable nights of my life and such an enormous privilege to be here to see the brilliant Brian May and Kerry Ellis perform. The people and business community of Cape Town have taken the lions to their hearts and welcomed us and this wonderful initiative in the most kind and generous manner. It has been an unforgettable evening. The Pride of Cape Town will make a crucial difference to our work as we fight to save lions from possible extinction.”

Virginia continued, “As we focus on the present we must not forget the past. The Born Free story, George and Joy Adamson and Elsa the lioness inspire us to this day. And the words and music of the Born Free song must surely touch even the hardest of hearts. A world without wild animals would be a poor world indeed and we at Born Free are all hearing the warning bells. Pride of Cape Town is a crucial and powerful part of our action plan and I am grateful to be part of it.”

Pride of Cape Town has now officially launched and the magnificent lions are set to ‘prowl’ the streets of the V&A Waterfront in 2013! Keep up to date with all the news from Brian, Kerry and Virginia and the magnificent lions - including a free prize draw to win a trip for two to the award winning Shamwari Game Reserve in the Eastern Cape which is part of Shamwari Group and home to the Born Free centre.

PRIDE OF CAPE TOWN is being presented in partnership with Wild in Art and Shamwari Group and is kindly supported by SAA and the V&A Waterfront.

Pride of Cape Town got off to a glittering start

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