Born Free Foundation - Keep Wildlife in the Wild

Story of Elsa the lioness inspires hearts and minds at prestigious Film Festival

7 October 2011

Categories: Homepage News

Jackson Hole, Wyoming, October 6, 2011 - Elsa: The Lioness That Changed the World (Brian Leith Productions/BBC/WNET) captured the prestigious Conservation Hero prize at the 11th Jackson Hole Wildlife Film Festival Awards today.

In the competitive world of documentaries, the work and legacy of pioneering conservationists George and Joy Adamson won plaudits from judges and the public.

The story of how the Adamson’s returned Elsa the lioness to a wild and free life in the face of widespread scepticism, was the subject of a best-selling book published in the early 1960’s. It has been widely credited with changing public perceptions about lions and sparked a wildlife revolution where wild animals are, today, recognised as individuals with many of the characteristics such as affection, remorse, regret and love, previously thought to be the exclusive preserve of humans.

Virginia McKenna OBE, the legendary actress who co-starred in the 1966 classic movie Born Free with her late husband Bill Travers, is featured in the film from locations in the remote north of Kenya where the Adamson’s carried out much of their work.

In a statement sent from her home near London, England, McKenna said,

“It really is an extraordinary tribute to the pioneering work of George and Joy Adamson that their story, the story of Elsa, continues to touch millions of people 50 years later. It touched my heart when, with my late husband Bill, we made Born Free. It reaches across the world today through the work of the Born Free Foundation and Born Free USA. It has touched the hearts of the jury through this remarkable film – so carefully produced by Brian Leith and Clare Brook and sensitively directed by Sacha Mirzoeff - in which I am honoured to have had a role. Elsa truly was the Lioness That Changed the World – and she still is. Her legacy is burning bright – long may it do so!

The award-winning actress, well-known for her roles opposite such luminaries as Yul Brynner, Gary Cooper, Peter Finch and Paul Scofield, is also internationally recognised for her campaigning work for wildlife, particularly the establishment in 1984 of the Born Free Foundation ( and subsequently Born Free USA (, charities that today fight against the suffering of wild animals in captivity and champion the conservation of endangered species. Virginia is also the author of the bestselling book, The Life in My Years, her critically acclaimed memoirs and was recently voted one of the most inspirational people of all time in a Daily Telegraph (UK) poll.

Elsa The Lioness That Changed The World is available to order from Born Free Foundation. Telephone: 01403 240170 or visit:

Born Free Foundation
Broadlands Business Campus, Langhurstwood Road
, Horsham, RH12 4QP, UK - Charity Reg. No. 1070906

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