What happens when you become a product?

If you haven’t seen the video of "Christian the Lion", you need to watch it first.

Wonderful, isn’t it? It’s a three hankie story if ever I saw one.

But … Sony Pictures has purchased the rights to the story of Christian and the two men: John Rendall and Anthony "Ace" Bourke.

John Rendall, now living in Australia was amazed to discover how popular the Youtube video has become. “If it’s made people more aware and more interested in conservation and the protection of the environment, we’re very pleased,” he said.

Bless him for his simplicity. Because, in my jaded experience, the most likely outcome of the story being turned into a movie, is an exponential growth in the illegal breeding of lions, a massive surge in the death of lionesses in the wild in an attempt to take their cubs, and a sudden explosion of cuddly cubs seen in the arms of Hollywood starlets. And that’s without mentioning the ‘training methods’ used by some Hollywood big animal suppliers. I won’t load a video of that, because it’s utterly unwatchable, but if you really want to know, google animal training and shock collars – and don’t say I didn’t warn you about the appalling cruelty involved.

Of course John and Ace didn’t know, when they found Christian for sale in a shop that should have been ashamed of itself even then, what would happen, nor that these short years in their lives and his, would become emblematic of some communication company’s desire to take our money. But they should know by now. Those who deal with environmental issues, especially those relating to predators, know that any public attention for the cause has both positive and negative outcomes – and the negative can be devastating. The theft of Golden Eagle eggs from nests in Scotland was a direct result of media stories about the successful breeding of two pairs of birds which described the location of the nests.

If you write about wildlife it’s always in the back of your mind that your words might have an unexpected outcome – while John and Ace didn’t set out to cause problems for lions, they may find that their heartwarming story has some heartbreaking consequences.

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