Born Free celebrates Elsa

We remember the iconic lioness, who was born on this day 68 years ago. In her memory, our charity is devoted to impactful lion conservation and her legacy lives on in Meru National Park, Kenya.

Elsa the lioness lying on top of a Land Rover

Elsa the lioness lying on top of a Land Rover

Today would have been the birthday of Elsa the lioness, who was born on 28th January 1956, in Meru National Park in Kenya. Born Free features Elsa on our logo and the true story of her journey to freedom inspires everything we do. We never forget the importance of the individual and that wild animals belong in the wild.  

Elsa was successfully returned to the wild in 1956 by the conservationists Joy and George Adamson, after she was orphaned as a young cub. This extraordinary journey was featured in the classic film ‘Born Free’, starring our Co-Founders Dame Virginia McKenna and Bill Travers MBE. Today, inspired by Elsa, our charity is devoted to lion conservation, including an extensive programme in Meru to monitor and protect wild lions, and help them live peacefully alongside local people.

We have even named a group of lions in her honour and Elsa’s Pride is now the largest lion family in Meru, with 26 individuals including several cubs born in 2023. Our Pride of Meru team works hard to keep them safe including a dramatic rescue last year when Cheri, an integral part of Elsa’s Pride, was spotted with a serious head injury – perhaps due to an altercation with another pride. With the help of the Kenya Wildlife Service vet, the three-year-old lioness was successfully darted, treated and released to join her family, monitored by our team to ensure she made a quick recovery.

The well-being of every lion matters to Born Free and it is vital we keep them safe. Today, around 23,000 wild lions remain across Africa, a decline of 87% since ‘Born Free’ was filmed 60 years ago. But, since our lion conservation work began in Kenya in 2010, the country’s lion population has increased by an extraordinary 25%, to over 2,500. Conservation really works!

You can help this vital and successful work to continue by adopting Elsa’s Pride.