These 25 life-size lion sculptures have made themselves at home in Waterloo


These 25 life-size lion sculptures have made themselves at home in Waterloo

a dog and its owner look curiously at a statue of two lions
The 25 life-size big cats can be seen in Waterloo until April. The couple here is named Virginia and Bill, after the founders of the Born Free charity.

A pack of 25 lions have appeared in Waterloo — in a free exhibit celebrating and fighting the long-term survival of big cats in the wild.

Louga the lion walks on the grass
A sculpture of Louga – a lion who was saved from working in a circus.

Born Free – Year of the Lion on Millennium Green (located opposite the Old Vic) features life-sized bronze sculptures of lions prowling, playing, growling and chatting. It is the work of the international charity Born Free, in an effort to raise awareness of the decline of the wild lion population, which could be extinct in 30 years without intervention.

Statue of a lion sticking out its paw as if to say hello
The 25 life-size sculptures will be on display in London until April 2022

Created by artists Gillie and Marc, each image represents a well-known big cat; they include Cecil (infamously killed by an American trophy hunter in Zimbabwe); Christian, a cub purchased from Harrods (who once owned an exotic pet store) and later successfully returned to the wild; and Louga, who was rescued from a circus.

Elsa the lioness stands majestically on a 4x4
Elsa the lioness stands majestically atop a 4×4 and is likely to demand a few double takes, especially after dark.

The standout centerpiece is a sculpture of Elsa the Lioness — the charity’s mascot, who was the subject of the 1966 film Born Free — atop a vintage 4×4 surrounded by lions and cubs. (Think there will be some double shots of people stumbling out of bars on Lower Marsh and The Cut.)

A lion stands proud, as if about to leap
We challenge you to visit this exhibition without humming the theme from Born Free.

The film was the work of the charity’s co-founders, Virginia McKenna and Bill Travers; Travers sadly passed away in 1994, but McKenna was there to launch this eye-opening exhibit, saying: “There are 7.8 billion people on Earth, and we must now decide whether we are willing to share our planet with the shockingly few wild lions that remains?”

A wide shot of the lions on the green
Get as close as you want – they won’t bite.

You can see the lions for free at Millennium Green, Waterloo until April 2022. They later move to Edinburgh.

Last updated on January 07, 2022

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