Posts Tagged ‘Born Wild’

Press Release: Born Wild by Tony Fitzjohn

March 7th, 2011


Contact: Ellen Folan

      (212) 782-8944;









An exotic and fantastically entertaining memoir

from the man who worked alongside George Adamson of Born Free fame

to help reintroduce lions—including Christian—to the African wild.



The Extraordinary Story of One Man’s Passion for Africa


By Tony Fitzjohn


“The funny thing about being chewed up by a lion is that they don’t bite chunks out of you—they suffocate you. All that firepower and they use a pillow. . . . He was going to kill me, the bastard. I can remember wondering, as I faded away: Which one was it? A wild lion or one of ours? . . . I consider it my closest shave yet, and not much to have paid for the privilege of living with animals since the day

in 1971 when George Adamson took me on.”

—Tony Fitzjohn, from BORN WILD



Praise for BORN WILD


“Fitzjohn worked with George Adamson for seventeen years at his lion preserve in Kenya (made famous from the 1966 film Born Free) and recounts his unplotted, delightfully quirky, and frequently perilous journey from rogue Englishman to African wildlife conservationist. . . . This is a wonderfully engrossing narrative of Fitzjohn’s tireless, lifelong work establishing trust with both the wild animals and prickly governments.”

Publishers Weekly “Pick of the Week”


“In this engaging memoir, [Fitzjohn] tells how, with support of global conservation groups and big donors, he and other conservationists continue dauntlessly to fight for African wildlife.”



“A vivid and colorful portrayal of a maverick who has lived life to the fullest and continues to do so as he tackles the challenges of conserving wild places and wild things in East Africa. A wonderful addition to any

conservationist’s library.”

—Dr. Richard Leakey




How many people have lived with lions(and almost been eaten by one), been charged by rhinos in the bush, battled with Somali poachers, fought with corrupt government officials, been chased out of Kenya, and knighted by a queen? In his lifelong quest to safeguard Africa’s wild animals, the incomparable Tony Fitzjohn has done all of these things, and much more.


Part missionary, part madman, Fitzjohn is an internationally renowned conservationist and one of the leading field experts on African wildlife. Best known for the eighteen years he spent helping Born Free’s George Adamson rehabilitate and return zoo leopards and lions—including Christian, the YouTube sensation and subject of 2009’s New York Times bestseller A Lion Called Christian—to the wild in Kenya, Fitzjohn belongs to that rare species of humans who have sought refuge and meaning in a life truly dedicated to the protection and restoration of the animal kingdom. BORN WILD: The Extraordinary Story of One Man’s Passion for Africa (Crown Publishers; Hardcover; March 22, 2011) is the fascinating, tender, and charmingly irreverent memoir of his remarkable life.


In BORN WILD, Fitzjohn recounts his youth as a drifter in London, reading Tarzan of the Apes and dreaming of Africa, and the fortunate day that Joy Adamson turned him down for a desk job. (“I have nothing going, but my husband [George] is looking for someone. His previous assistant has just been killed by a lion.”) With warmth and humor, he recalls his early days at Kora (an area of Kenya along the Tana River, now a national park) and his incredibly close relationship with the big cats in his and Adamson’s care—including Christian, the famous lion cub purchased at Harrods in London, raised by two Australian gentlemen above a furniture shop, and eventually delivered to Adamson when he became too massive for one small English flat. Fitzjohn describes being mauled by one of Kora’s lions and promptly saved by another. He reveals his deeply personal struggle with guilt and anger at the brutal murder of Adamson, whom he called “the Old Man,” in 1989 and the subsequent demise of the lion project at Kora. And, throughout the book, Fitzjohn also brings to light some of the perverse realities that afflict wildlife in Africa to this day, the most destructive and persistent being poaching, reminding us of what we stand to lose if we do not take collective action soon.


Today Fitzjohn has not slowed at all. In addition to running the Mkomazi game reserve in Tanzania where he and his team are rehabilitating and breeding some of the most exquisite—and in many cases endangered—species in the world (e.g., black rhinos and wild dogs), Fitzjohn was recently asked to return to Kenya to rebuild the camp at Kora and, someday, he hopes, to bring back the lions and leopards. As he writes in the closing pages of BORN WILD, “I miss the Old Man every day as I try to live up to his beliefs—working to give animals a chance to live with dignity in their own land. . . . If we continue to care enough to keep going forward one step at a time, we’ll walk with lions again.” All at once poignant, hilarious, and inspirational, and featuring more than eighty incredible photographs, BORN WILD is a captivating account of an extraordinary life and a testament to what one man driven by an impossibly restless spirit has done to further a cause in which he believes.


About the Author

TONY RAYMOND FITZJOHN, OBE, is an internationally recognized conservationist. He spent more than forty years successfully reintroducing zoo animals to the wild, preserving East African wildlife, and pioneering the development and management of the Kora National Park. He has gained National Park status for two game reserves, commanded antipoaching patrols, and continues his mission as the field director for the George Adamson Wildlife Preservation Trust. He and his wife, Lucy, live with their four children in Tanzania.




The Extraordinary Story of One Man’s Passion for Africa

By Tony Fitzjohn

Crown Publishers * March 22, 2011 * Pages: 336

Price: $25.00 * Hardcover * ISBN: 978-0-307-71603-3






To schedule an interview with Tony, please contact:

Ellen Folan, Senior Publicist, Crown Publicity, at 212-782-8944 or

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The Crown Publishing Group