Born free roars into 2022 with Born Free forever exhibition

7 January 2022


Outdoor exhibition of 25 life-sized lions, including the iconic Elsa on top of a 4×4, cast in bronze by acclaimed artists Gillie and Marc, opens in London to raise awareness and vital funds for our lion conservation work.

Virginia McKenna OBE, and Will Travers OBE, plus Born Free Patrons Gaby Roslin, Sally Gunnell OBE and Lauren St John, celebrate our ‘Year of the Lion’ and Bill Travers’ 100th birthday at the launch event, at Millennium Green, Waterloo. 

We are proud to present Born Free Forever, a moving and powerful exhibition of 25 life-sized lions cast in bronze by internationally acclaimed artists Gillie and Marc, which starts in London and tours the UK, before concluding in Edinburgh this autumn. The exhibition, which will be in situ at Waterloo’s Millennium Green for the next three months, celebrates and fights for the long-term survival of the majestic lion, whose numbers are declining so drastically they could be extinct across much of their wild range within 30 years.

Virginia McKenna OBE, star of Born Free and Co-Founder of our charity, alongside Will Travers OBE, Co-Founder and Executive President, were joined by Born Free Patrons Gaby Roslin, Sally Gunnell OBE and Lauren St John for the London launch of this stunning exhibition, in the week that would have seen Bill Travers turn 100, but for his sudden and tragic death in 1994. It marks the start of our ‘Year of the Lion‘ activities, which will run throughout 2022, and raise money for the new Forever Lions Fund, set up in Bill’s memory to support our vital lions conservation work.

Born Free Forever  is a celebration of Born Free’s heritage, and tells the stories of many of the lions we have helped over the years. The exhibition’s centrepiece features Elsa the lioness – the original inspiration and iconic symbol of hope for our charity – standing on top of a vintage 4×4 surrounded by lions and cubs. Each of the lions in the exhibition represents a real life lion, and highlights some of the challenges facing lions today. From Christian, the cub purchased from Harrods and successfully returned to the wild, to Makena, the Kenyan lioness living in the Born Free-supported Meru National Park, now with cubs of her own. And King, the lion Born Free rescued from the exotic pet trade, now given lifetime care at their sanctuary in South Africa, along with Louga, rescued from the circus, and Cora, saved from appalling conditions in a Spanish zoo. 

Will Travers OBE, Executive President and Co-Founder of Born Free, stated “Lions face many challenges, both in the wild and in captivity. We simply cannot ignore the declining numbers for a moment longer. This life-size, outdoor, bronze sculpture exhibition, featuring iconic lions, including Elsa on top of a 4×4, tells the true stories behind the issues they face. I encourage everyone to visit us in London not only to marvel at the exhibition and learn more about the plight of these emblematic and majestic creatures but help us fundraise and campaign so that there is a forever for lions.

“We are all so inspired by Gillie and Marc’s creative vision and passion for lions. Their glorious work is a showstopper, a genuine world-first and we’d love everyone who loves lions to get involved. A positive global force for wildlife, Born Free is all about freedom for all species. Wild lions and all they represent are the living symbols of our charity. Through these extraordinary sculptures, the spirit of Elsa lives on and burns brighter than ever.”

Born Free Forever  will be in situ outdoors at Millennium Green, Baylis Rd, London SE1 7AA until March 2022.

Please come along and meet the pride, and look out for additional venues up and down the country, which will be announced soon!

Don’t forget to share your sculpture selfies on social media using #BornFreeForever #LovetheLast and #ForeverLions

Images © PinPep