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Lion Auction is the Pride of Cape Town!

Date Added : 13 May 2013
Virginia McKenna and Catherine Gillson (Shamwari Group).  Photo credit - Andrew Brown

Virginia McKenna and Catherine Gillson (Shamwari Group). Photo credit - Andrew Brown

On 3 May 2013, lion conservation took centre stage at the fashionable moyo’s restaurant as Pride of Cape Town reached a dazzling climax. Cape Town’s finest turned out in force for the auction of the spectacular pride of 30 life-size lion sculptures, raising a staggering 300,000 Rand. The two and only Born Free centres in South Africa are situated at Shamwari Game Reserve in the Eastern Cape who were, on the evening, presented with the ‘People’s lion’ for the continued support of the foundation.

Star of the academy award-winning film ‘Born Free’ Virginia McKenna OBE, who co-founded the international wildlife charity the Born Free Foundation was in attendance, alongside a host of luminaries from the worlds of business, media and art.

This unique major public arts initiative captured the passion, creativity and rich culture and heritage of Africa, whilst poignantly reminding people that the very symbol of this vast continent, the magnificent lion, is gravely under threat.

The 150 invited guests were all there to show their support by bidding for their favourite lion and raising vital funds for the Born Free Foundation to help conserve and protect wild lions - and the kind-hearted philanthropic audience did not disappoint.

As Virginia McKenna took to the floor there was a rapturous applause from the Cape Town crowd as she passionately spoke about the many dangers that face wild lions and our need to halt their terrifying decline,

“Lions are disappearing from Africa. This is fact not fiction. Born Free's symbol has become a victim of man’s insatiable greed and selfish desire to control.”

A rousing video message especially recorded by Queen legend, Brian May, further added to proceedings, encouraging the guests to whole-heartedly support this worthwhile and important cause, saying,

“It’s a global thing; Virginia McKenna has really started a complete wave of change in the world. We will, in the future, regard animals in a completely different light, as worthy to share this planet with us on an equal basis. This auction is very important because it will ensure the life, the continued life of lions in Africa.”

Brian May and singing sensation Kerry Ellis had previously flown in to Cape Town last year to launch the project.

The eye catching lions, all individually painted and designed to create stunning pieces of art, were highly sought-after following their eight week display on the iconic V&A Waterfront, where they have proved to be a popular and colourful attraction to one of the world’s top tourist destinations.

There was an air of excitement and anticipation as South African celebrity Alan Ford, led the audience through each lion lot at the auction.

There were number of star attractions of the night, with talented artist Maria Brink's stunning broken glass design 'Blood Diamonds' going for 30,000 Rand and 'Grand Mr Bones', with his gold pelage and ceremonial crown reaching 25,000 Rand. Other lots favoured well too from Coca-Cola's 'Buddy' to the lion 'Mars' with his glorious mane of pencils designed by Mark Malherbe.

As the project concluded, a delighted Virginia thanked the guests for their generous support,

“Last night’s Pride of Cape Town auction at the marvellous moyo restaurant, gave us huge encouragement. I feel so grateful to the people of Cape Town and to everyone that understands that a world without the King of the Jungle would be a sad world indeed and a shameful legacy to leave future generations.”

Sponsors include: Staedtler, moyo, Land Rover, Chitwa Chitwa, Red Bush Tea, CP Construction, Lions Club International, Coca-Cola, KFM, Novartis, SAA, Grand Café & Beach, Shamwari Group, Mantis Collection, African Inspiration, Laugh it Off, V&A Waterfront, The Parlotones, Phoenix Mercury Trust, Kenya Airways and 5FM.

Pride of Cape Town was presented in partnership with Wild in Art and Shamwari Group and is kindly supported by the V&A Waterfront and with thanks to Hamilton Russell wines for their generosity.

For more information on the Pride of Cape Town, visit

For more about the Born Free Foundation, visit

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