George Adamson MBE (3 February 1906 – 20 August 1989), also known as the Baba ya Simba (“Father of Lions” in Swahili), was a Kenyan wildlife conservationist and author.
George Alexander Graham Adamson was born 3 February 1906 in Etawah, India to British parents. Educated at Dean Close School, Cheltenham, England, he moved to Kenya in 1925. After a series of jobs, which included time as a gold prospector, goat trader and professional safari hunter, he joined Kenya’s game department in 1938 and was Senior Wildlife Warden of the Northern Frontier District. Six years later, he married Joy. It was in 1956 that he raised the lioness cub, Elsa, whom he helped to release into the wild and who became the subject of the 1966 feature film Born Free based on the book written by Joy.
Adamson retired as a wildlife warden in 1961 and devoted himself to raising lions who could not look after themselves and training them to survive in the wild. In 1970, he moved to the Kora National Reserve in northern Kenya to continue the rehabilitation of captive or orphaned big cats for eventual reintroduction into the wild. George and Joy separated in 1970, but continued to spend Christmas holidays together until she was murdered on 3 January 1980.
On 20 August 1989, George Adamson was murdered near his camp in Kora National Park, by Somali bandits, when he went to the rescue of his assistant and a young European tourist in the Kora National Park. He was 83 years old. He is buried in the Kora National Park near his brother Terance. Two lions are buried next to Adamson as well: Super Cub, and Mugie, a lion released in Kora after George’s death.