Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Joy Adamson

She was born in Austria and emigrated to Africa when her first husband, who was Jewish, decided before WWII that Austria was becoming unsafe. Unfortunately for her first husband, she met her second husband on the trip. Ms. Adamson was a successful botanical painter before meeting an marrying her third and final husband, George, a game warden, but she is most famous for rehabilitating big cats and releasing them into the wild.

Born Free documents the Adamsons' experience with Elsa, a young lioness they raised after George was forced to shoot her mother. Joy and George were able to teach Elsa to hunt and care for herself and release her, and Elsa found a mate and had cubs. However, Elsa became ill and died while the cubs were still small, so Joy raised them and released them, too (they were never seen again). Born Free, Living Free, and Forever Free - and the movies that were made from them - were hugely popular and drew enormous and welcome attention to environmentalism, conservationism, and anti-extinction efforts.

Ms. Adamson was murdered on January 3, 1980 while observing animals in the wild. Although her death was initially reported as a cat mauling, her wounds were later determined to have been inflicted by a sword-like weapon/weapons. Even that finding is not consistent with the claims of the person who confessed to killing her - he says he shot her - so who knows. Her husband, George, was murdered by poachers in 1989.
The Awesome Woman for Wednesday, June 22, 2011, is Friedrike "Joy" Adamson, January 20, 1910 to January 3, 1980, the most well-known naturalist/conservationist of my lifetime (so far).


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