How the Lion of Lions became the Roaring Lion

The Roaring Lion of District 410A

The Roaring Lion of District 410A

In late 2011 an article about the Born Free Foundation’s ‘Pride of Cape Town” appeared in the local media. Following email correspondence and a meeting with their international coordinator from the UK they accepted a proposed that Lions District 410A should become involved.

The Born Free Foundation, now a registered NPO in this country, was founded over 40 years ago in the UK. Its’ mission is simply to rescue wild animals from captivity and repatriate them to the wild.

In South Africa the rescued animals are returned to Shamwari in the Eastern Cape.

The “Pride Project” has been successfully held in other capital cities and involves commercial concerns and caring individuals each sponsoring a nearly two metre long 10kg fibreglass Lion model. Then each Lion is decorated following submission of a design proposal and motivation to Born Free, UK. Not only is it a unique marketing exercise but it also raises much needed funds as each Lion is sponsored from the outset and then auctioned.

South African sponsors paid R30000 for each Lion whilst District 410A paid half ie R15000 as a contribution to a rather different environmental project. In addition, we received 25% of the auction price of our Lion whereas other sponsors receive nothing back.

With thirty Lions placed throughout the V & A Waterfront for five weeks it was interesting to see the different designs produced by local artists. From a red Coca Cola Lion to a golden King of the Beasts complete with crown. A lot of thought went into many of the designs.

A chance encounter at a “Stop Hunger Now” meeting resulted in internationally acclaimed artist Riaan van Zyl of Kalk Bay unhesitatingly accepting the invitation to create a design and decorate the Lion of Lions. Given the internationalism of Lionism, the Born Free Foundation and the animal itself it was agreed to design our Lion with maps of the world.

On further discussion the idea of a Roaring Lion was developed and this sound activated design was approved by the organisers. Apart from finding old maps at second hand shops in his area Riaan had to use lots of white glue, brushes, acrylic paint, lacquer and thinners all sponsored by Jack’s Paint and Hardware, Edgemead.

This painstaking process involved hundreds of hours to complete apart from the local and international administration and management. Once decorated the Lion was delivered to Progressive Electronics of Goodwood for the coin slot mechanism and speakers to be fitted. As this was a pioneering project there were a few unforeseen hitches which were soon ironed out and the Roaring Lion of 410A was active, raising R650 in donations on the first day.

After the public display period the models were placed in storage, any damage repaired, our coin slot mechanism removed and all models then placed on the auction at Moyo Restaurant. As we were away at MD Convention, ten Leos under the supervision of Lion Alan Abrahamson assisted with carrying the Lions in to the stage and out again after they had been sold.

Having negotiated the opportunity to make a 55 minute documentary for Cape Town Television about our work as Lions, the Roaring Lion and our support of Born Frees’ efforts the auction was filmed by Lion Llen Labuscagne.

Further recognition needs to be given to Lions Judy Young of Cape Town Club and Lion Eleanor Barber of Merriman Lions who assisted with the distribution of Lions at the V & A.

Our artist Riaan van Zyl’s contribution has been recognised with a Louis Volks Humanitarian Award for his enthusiastic participation for Roaring Lion 1 and 2. Whilst negotiating our involvement with Born Free Foundation it was mentioned that a few extra models may be available at the end of the project and thus one has been bought for a new marketing and income generating project this fiscal year.

Our Lion of Lions was bought on auction by Deon Pienaar CEO of RandTrust and it will be displayed in the foyer of their business premises in Cape Town.

DC Clive Fox

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