Simbaiosis keeps an eye his wild cousins…

Meet Jan Allan who designed Simbaiosis. Jan was instrumental in ensuring that his design also got a high bid at the Pride of Kenya lion auction!

He was the proxy bidder for Nico Giovando and he is seen here talking to Nico who was in Italy, who bid kshs.1000,000 for Simbaiosis. Nico, who owns a camp in the Maasai Mara, will place Simbaiosis one of the decks in this lovely tented camp. This lion will have a view of the world! And we hope that he will be able to keep on eye on his wild lion cousins in the Mara.

Jan Allan bidding on behalf of Nico Giovando for Simbaiosis © Emmanuel Mambo

Simbaiosis on the streets of Nairobi

Who is King of the Jungle now?!

Dana, thank you for being such a fan of Pride of Kenya!  You have read our blogs throughout and it is so good to see your comments.  As you said, a big shout out should be going out to our lion bidders – you are absolutely spot on, so here we go.

I’ll start with our millionaire bidders like Sachit Shah of GA Insurance. Here he is handing over to me a cheque for Kshs.1,000,000 (Approx $14,0000) for his successful bid of King Mufasa!  Who is the King of the Jungle now!

Alice Owen of Born Free Kenya receiving a cheque from Sachit Shah - King Mufasa is in the foreground © BF Kenya

Sachit Shah and Alice Owen © BF Kenya

The funds raised raised from very kind donors like Sachit Shah will help Born Free Foundation to conserve lions in the wild in collaboration with the Kenya Wildlife Service.

Pride of Kenya photos!

Hi All,As promised, please see below for some of the photos from the Pride of Kenya event – to see even more, please visit Born Free’s website here where there is a gallery of images!!We would like to say a HUGE thank you to all the guests, all those that bid and to Emmanuel Mambo who did the photography for free!!  Also, a big thanks to all our helpers, the Born Free Kenya team and everyone who helped Born Free and Wild in Art to undertake this amazing event!!!Assistant Minister for Forestry and Wildlife and KWS Director © Emmanual MamboBidder celebrates © Emmanuel MamboInternational School of Kenya band © Emmanuel MamboKWS Director on stage © Emmanuel MamboViewing lions © Emmanuel MamboViewing lions 2 © Emmanuel Mambo

Pride of Kenya A Roaring Success!

Fifty life-size lion sculptures were auctioned off to the highest bidder on 6th November, in what can only be described as a spectacular celebration of Kenya’s magnificent wildlife heritage.

Organised by the Born Free Foundation in collaboration with Wild in Art, the star-studded event marked the climax of the Pride of Kenya project, raising millions of shillings for wild lion conservation.

“These exquisite fibre-glass lion sculptures have all been innovatively and intricately decorated by top Kenyan artists.  Each and every one is a unique work of art.” said Alice Owen of Born Free Kenya. “However, they are not just for decoration. They carry a critical message:  Kenya’s wild lions are in serious trouble and need our urgent help.”

Held at the Kenya Wildlife Service Headquarters, a whole host of dignitaries were present at the colourful Pride of Kenya auction, including the Assistant Minister for Forestry and Wildlife Hon. Josphat Nanok, Virginia McKenna OBE, star of the film Born Free and founder of the Born Free Foundation, and Dr Julius Kipng’etich, Director of the Kenya Wildlife Service.

The Government of Kenya has backed the Pride of Kenya initiative from the very beginning when the Minister for Forestry and Wildlife Rt Hon. Dr Wekesa attended the launch at the Serena Hotel in Nairobi back in July.  His presence has served to reinforce both his personal enthusiasm and the Government’s commitment to this important issue.

Dr Kipng’etich proclaimed: “Our mission at KWS is clear.  Firstly, to stabilise our lion population and then, working with all sectors of society and our partner organisations like Born Free Foundation, to find ways to allow that lion population to grow.  When it comes to wildlife conservation, Kenya is an undisputed world-leader.”

The issue of lion conservation has certainly been brought to the fore by this amazing public art display. Kenya may still be a lion stronghold but the reality is that without urgent action, Africa’s greatest symbol, the lion, could be extinct across much of its current range within 20 years – a message that has sent shockwaves throughout Africa and the rest of the world.

Virginia McKenna OBE, said: “I first visited Kenya when the film Born Free was made in 1964.  Despite the inevitable impact of development, this beautiful country still has an abundance of wildlife and wild places, and Pride of Kenya is a testament to Kenya’s determination to make wildlife conservation a priority.  However, the challenge will be to ensure that this remains the case in the years ahead.  Pride of Kenya has shown the way to bring all sectors of society together for wildlife.”

Numerous business leaders, including Vimal Shah, MD of Bidco Group Kenya, were also present to support the event.

“I think I can speak on behalf of all those who have participated in Pride of Kenya by saying that this event truly marked a historical moment in Kenya’s wildlife history” stated Will Travers, CEO of the Born Free Foundation.  “Not only has this been a wonderful celebration of Born Free Foundation’s 25th Anniversary, it has also set a benchmark for lion conservation over the next 25 years. It will be a challenge, but with the breadth of support and commitment shown here this evening, I know we can all do it.  Born Free looks forward to working with KWS in coming months and years to see this dream become a reality.”

For more details contact Alice Owen on 0735 200200 or Wanja Kimani on 0722 524837 or go to the Pride of Kenya website on or the Born Free website on and more information will follow soon so please do check back!!!


Clearly 2009 is a very special year. Not only have 50 stunning Pride of Kenya lions ‘prowled’ the streets of Nairobi, Kenya for the last 2 months, firing the imagination of citizens in the biggest public street art event the city has ever seen, but the year also marks the Born Free Foundation’s Silver Anniversary.“It’s been an amazing experience for thousands of people“, said Alice Owen from Born Free.

Pride of Kenya lions

“Before Pride of Kenya stormed onto the streets of Nairobi in September, few people were aware that just 2,000 wild lions exist in Kenya today.”The issue of lion conservation has been brought to the fore by this amazing public art display. Kenya may still be a lion stronghold but the reality is that without urgent action, Africa’s greatest symbol, the lion, could be extinct across much of its current range within 20 years – a message that has sent shockwaves throughout Africa and the rest of the world.The impressive and influential Pride of Kenya lion sculptures will soon be heading for new homes, spreading the message about Kenya’s wildlife heritage and lion conservation.Will Travers, CEO of Born Free Foundation explains, “Each lion sculpture will be sold to the highest bidder at the spectacular Pride of Kenya Gala Dinner and Auction in Nairobi on the evening of 6th November 2009!  

This exciting event, which will also commemorate Born Free Foundation’s 25th Anniversary, is being hosted by the Director of KWS, Dr Julius Kipng’etich at the Kenya Wildlife Service headquarters in Nairobi.”In the presence of Hon Dr. Noah Wekesa, Minister of Forestry and Wildlife, special guests will include Virginia McKenna OBE, star of the film “Born Free” and founder of Born Free Foundation, and Born Free CEO, Will Travers.  The public can be part of this unique celebration of Kenya’s wildlife heritage and 25 years of the Born Free Foundation, including bidding in the Pride of Kenya lion auction.  Tickets, which cost just Ksh5,000 per person (including 3 course buffet dinner, Pride of Kenya lion auction entry, dancing and of course, one last, exclusive, private look at the fifty Pride of Kenya lion sculptures) are available from at the details below.

For more details and tickets contact Alice Owen on +254 (0) 735 200200 or Wanja Kimani on +254 (0) 722 524837 or go to the Pride of Kenya website on

ABSENTEE BIDDING – It is possible to leave an absentee bid for a lion sculpture up to 5pm on 5th November 2009, if you are unable to attend the evening. Contact the Born Free team as above for more information.  Any bids will need to be guaranteed with a credit card and any delivery within Kenya or overseas must be arranged and paid for by the Buyer of the sculpture.  For the full list of lions available for bids at the Pride of Kenya auction, please visit  

Pride of Kenya Gala Auction and Dinner - 6th November 2009

Pride of Kenya lions vandalised

Sadly one of the Pride of Kenya lions which was in the central business district has been vandalised. On the eve of the recent public holiday I group of youths attacked Green Heart the Lion damaging its structure and breaking two of its legs. The car parked behind Green Heart the Lion had its windows broken in the process. By the time the security guards back up arrived the group of about 12 had disappeared.

Green Heart the Lion
The Pride of Kenya vets got to work on Green Heart the Lion the next day. Our main vet, Kevin Odour fixed the structure of the lion. Right now although slightly weakened Green Heart the Lion is looking as good as new, awaiting his final touch up by his artist Katy McIntyre Brown before the auction.

Green Heart the Lion
In another case of vandalism also in the central business district, Simba Mfalme had the painted scrapped off also by drunken individuals from across the street. The artist Cyrus has since repainted it and it is ready for auction.

We’ve all grown to love all 50 of the lions so these cases of vandalism have been heart wrenching. Fortunately none of the damage has been unrepairable.

Noni Mruttu

Pride Of Kenya lions to join the Standard Chartered ‘Hesabika Tena’ Marathon!

The 50 Pride of Kenya lions will this year ‘participate’ in the annual Standard Chartered Nairobi Marathon scheduled to take place on Sunday 25th October 2009.


The event vision is ‘Seeing is Believing ’and is geared to raising funds for helping the less fortunate people with eye related ailments.

The Marathon is among the biggest athletic events in the world and has for the past six years brought together people from all corners of the world. It is estimated that over 30,000 people enrolled and participated in this worthy course last year.

This year there will be an addition of 50 ‘unusual’ guests parading around Nyayo stadium and they may participate in various race categories! One of the guests dubbed Mr. Heritage was kindly sponsored by the Standard Chartered Bank and skilfully decorated by local artist – Peter Patrick Mbogo aka ‘BUFF’. Mr. Heritage portrays great strength, varied cultures and beautiful sceneries across Kenya.

Mr Heritage © BF Kenya

Mr Heritage 2 © BF Kenya
This will be last time the lions will be in public domain before being auctioned on 6th November 2009 at a Gala Dinner and Auction at the KWS headquarters in Nairobi. The Gala Dinner and Auction will also commemorate the Born Free Foundation’s 25th Anniversary. 

Pride of Kenya Gala Auction and Dinner - 6th November 2009

If you would like tickets to attend this special evening which will be attended by Born Free Foundation founder, Virginia McKenna OBE as well as many other special guests, please contact Wanja or Alice on [email protected]. 

There will also be the opportunity to be an “Absentee bidder” to bid on the lions.  However, all delivery arrangements and costs are the responsibility of the Buyer.  Please contact [email protected] for more.

Further information on the Gala Dinner and Auction will be posted here soon.

Manoa David

For more information contact us:
Tel: +254 020 884972
E-mail: [email protected]

Creating Msafiri, the travelling lion!

Carol Heaton, an artist passionate about and local to the Born Free Foundation UK offices in Horsham, West Sussex, was vital in the design and creation of the fantastic Pride of Kenya lion sponsored by Kenya Airways, Msafiri

Below, Carol explains the process of the creation of the wonderful Msafiri

Hi everyone.

Thought you might like more details on the making of the Kenya Airways lion.

The white lion sculpture was flown to the UK from Kenya and first stop was at the studio of David Shepherd, the world-renowned wildlife artist. He painted the beautiful cameo on the mane in oils.

The blank lion ready to be flown to the UK

David Shepherd’s amazing cameo of a male lion face © BFF

‘Msafiri’ was then moved to Born Free’s UK HQ and a protective housing was built to shield David’s painting while it dried, so that the rest of the lion’s body could be worked on.

 Carol placing the first jigsaw piece on the lion canvas © BFF

In total 150 pictures were selected from the Born Free Foundation archives, as well as from David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation, covering the whole history of Born Free from George and Joy Adamson’s work with Virginia McKenna and Bill Travers on the Born Free film, to the most up-to-date lion rescue and conservation projects. Each piece was individually cut and moulded to the lion form to interlock as a fully-functional 3D jigsaw.

The Born Free Foundation team working on the lion © BFF

Carol Heaton with Msafiri and Virginia McKenna, Founder of Born Free Foundation © BFF

The whole piece was covered with a protective resin layer and shipped back to Kenya the following weekend, to arrive in time for the launch.

Robson Green with Msafiri on their way back to Nairobi © Sam Mukadam / KA / BFF

Msafiri in his location at Kenya Airways’ with the staff and “lion vets” © BF Kenya

I’d very much like to thank the wonderful team at Born Free, without whose help ‘Msafiri’ would never have been completed on time. I feel very honoured to have worked on the project.

I hope the project is a huge success and that the auction of our lion and the other amazing pieces raises a wealth of funds to help this important project. Good luck!

With kindest regards

Carol Heaton

Obama Lion

To His Excellency President Barrack Obama
President of the United States of America

Dear Mr President,

Pride of Kenya is a free-to-view public art exhibition, featuring 50 life-size lion sculptures. These lion sculptures have been adopted by various organizations and schools, and have been decorated by artists from Kenya.

They shall be on the streets and malls of Nairobi for two months, to raise awareness on lion issues in Kenya.

On the 6th of November, we shall auction these lion sculptures at a gala dinner auction at the Kenya Wildlife Service headquarters. The proceeds from this auction shall be used on selected lion conservation projects in Kenya.

Pride of Kenya would like to make you aware of a lion done in your honor. It sits on Mama Ngina street in the Central Business District and is sponsored by a local billboard company called Prime Outdoor Advertising. We would like to interest you in buying this lion, as an act to contribute towards lion conservation in Kenya.

It is lion number 11 on the Pride of Kenya gallery;

Obama Lion

This could be the last lion in Kenya

In 20 years, this could be the last surviving lion in Kenya.
last lion

If we don’t change our perceptions of lions, you may be looking at one of the last of these magnificent animals alive in Kenya.  Gabriella is a lion cub at the Nairobi animal orphanage.  Two years ago, she was orphaned due to human-lion conflict in the Laikipia region.  She could live to around 22 years in captivity, by which time Kenya’s wild lions are predicted to be extinct at current rates of decline.

Survival of a lion in the wild requires great strength and stamina.  Today, human activity in former wildlife areas has seriously undermined the survival of lions in their natural habitat.  Do we really want to see our lions survive only in captivity?

At about two years of age, males lions are usually evicted from their pride.  They go nomadic.  A young inexperienced male will then be on his own for a couple more years.  He’ll probably meet another young male and they will form a coalition, establish a territory and take over a pride.  Once they take over a pride, they will eliminate the cubs and mate with the females of that pride.  His status within this pride will be determined by his strength.  By the time this lion is ten years old, he will get thrown out by another younger lion and he is now on his own again.  What happens to a lone, ten year old lion?  His chances of survival outside a pride are generally low – he goes nomadic again and his state of health is likely to decline.  He will eventually be eliminated.  Most male lions will live for just 9 or 10 years.

Lionesses, on the other hand, are more likely to die of injuries because they are the hunters.  But they are more protected by the rest of the pride and are less likely to be evicted if ill.  Thanks to this protection from the group, a lioness often lives for up to 16 years.

Pride of Kenya campaign aims at bringing real awareness about lion issues and why their survival is now under serious threat. As Kenyans and guardians of lions, it is now our responsibility. Will we let them live?

Alice Owen