Green Heroes pp 97-101 | Cite as

Living with Big Cats – The Story of Joy and George Adamson

  • László Erdős


George Adamson worked as a game warden in Kenya when he was forced to shoot a lioness charging one of his colleagues. The lioness had three cubs, whom Adamson brought to camp. Two of them were sent to a zoo but George Adamson and his wife Joy kept the smallest, whom they named Elsa. The couple decided to return Elsa to the wild. The pioneering endeavour was successful, and thanks to books and films about their story, Elsa and the Adamsons became world-famous. Joy and George Adamson continued their work and returned several orphaned and captive big cats to the wild. Both Joy and George Adamson were murdered in Africa, but their influence lives on. Their exceptional relationships with big cats changed people’s attitudes towards great predators.


Lion Leopard Cheetah Elsa (lion) Pippa (cheetah) Born free Elsa Conservation Trust Born Free Foundation Shaba Reserve Kora National Park 

Worth Reading

  1. Adamson, J. (1969). The spotted Sphinx. London: Collins & Harvill.Google Scholar
  2. Adamson, J. (1972a). Pippa’s challenge. New York: Ballantine Books.Google Scholar
  3. Adamson, J. (1972b). Joy Adamson’s Africa. New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich.Google Scholar
  4. Adamson, J. (1980). Queen of Shaba: The story of an African leopard. New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich.Google Scholar
  5. Adamson, J. (1981). Friends from the forest. New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich.Google Scholar
  6. Adamson, G. (1986). My pride and joy: An autobiography. London: Collins Harvill.Google Scholar
  7. Adamson, J. (1990a). Living free. London: HarperCollins.Google Scholar
  8. Adamson, J. (1990b). Forever free. London: HarperCollins.Google Scholar
  9. Adamson, J. (2000). Born free: A lioness of two worlds. New York: Pantheon Books.Google Scholar
  10. Fitzjohn, T., & Bredin, M. (2011). Born wild: The extraordinary story of one man’s passion for Africa. New York: Crown Publishers.Google Scholar

Worth Watching

  1. The Born Free Legacy (2010)Google Scholar
  2. Elsa’s Legacy: The Born Free Story (2011)Google Scholar
  3. Lord of the Lions: Adamson of Africa (1989)Google Scholar
  4. To Walk with Lions (1999)Google Scholar
  5. Elsa: The Lioness That Changed the World (2010)Google Scholar
  6. The Lions Are Free (1969)Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • László Erdős
    • 1
  1. 1.MTA-DE Lendület Functional and Restoration Ecology Research Group, DebrecenInstitute of Ecology and Botany MTA Centre for Ecological ResearchVácrátótHungary

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