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Elsa: The Lioness that changed the World

In February 2011, Richard narrated a documentary in BBC Two's Natural World series about Elsa, the lioness raised by George and Joy Adamson in Kenya in the 1950s.

Elsa was one of three orphaned lion cubs raised by the couple. The other two were eventually sent to Rotterdam Zoo, but Elsa remained with the Adamsons until they released her, successfully, into the wild.

Joy Adamson told Elsa's story in two books, Born Free (1960) and Living Free (1961). The former was used as the basis of the 1966 film Born Free, starring Virginia McKenna and Bill Travers. It told Elsa's story up to the point where the Adamsons discovered that she had borne and raised three cubs in the wild. Elsa died prematurely, succumbing in 1961 to Babesia felis, a blood disease. Both of the Adamsons were murdered in the 1980s.

Elsa's story, as told in Born Free, captured the imagination of the world. This drama documentary looked back at her life and legacy, and included contributions from Virginia McKenna and David Attenborough. It's Richard Armitage's second narration for the Natural World series, following last year's Forest Elephants: Rumbles in the Jungle.

It was first broadcast on Tuesday 1st February on BBC Two in England and Northern Ireland, and on 2nd February in Wales. In Scotland, it's being shown on Saturday 5th February at 3.30pm.

Some clips from the progamme can be seen on the BBC's Natural World page, and it's available to UK viewers on the BBC iPlayer for one month after broadcast (or see the clip below).

Nb A shorter version of this programme, called Elsa's Legacy: The Born Free Story, was broadcast on 9th January 2011 on PBS in North America. However, that version was narrated by Chris Morgan.


Further information

BBC Natural World page about the progamme
Elsa page at Wikipedia
Born Free (film) page at Wikipedia
Born Free Foundation


Video Clip from 'Elsa: The Lioness that Changed the World'

This is an excerpt from the beginning of the programme.

Elsa video clip

Watch the clip.




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