Last updated: 24 september, 2010 - 14:39 GMT

Lion lover

Tony Fitzjohn with lions

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Tony Fitzjohn has dedicated 40 years to working with lions in Africa - a long way from his safe but quiet childhood in the suburbs of north London.

Tony says he was so bored as a child that he used to bunk off school and go shoplifting. He didn't actually want or need the things he stole - he was just looking for a bit of excitement and an escape from an ordinary life.

This yearning for adventure was made even stronger by a tattered volume he found at the back of his parents bookshelf.

After reading Tarzan of the Apes under the bedclothes as he was recovering from typhus, Tony was determined to go to Africa.

He set off for South Africa with an aunt, and soon after that went to Kenya, where he worked as an apprentice to George Adamson - made famous by the book and film Born Free.

Tony has devoted his life to re-introducing lions, leopards and rhinos to the wild. It can be dangerous work. He was once attacked by a wild lion who took off his ear, ripped his scalp and left him with a gaping hole in his neck.

These days he is based in Tanzania where he has created a new National Park.

Tony Fitzjohn came into the Outlook studio and he began by telling Lucy Ash how he had developed such a special relationship with lions.

Born Wild: the Extraordinary Story of One Man’s Passion for Lions and for Africa is published by Viking

Tony Fitzjohn with a lion

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