The Lion King remake received tremendous success this summer, with people all over the world falling in love—yet again—with the king of the jungle. And his cubs! Sadly, not many of us are aware of the life these majestic animals have to endure. Around 70% of South Africa’s lions are born and raised in captivity so that people can cuddle and take photos with them. When the cubs are young they are cute, however, when they grow up they become quite ferocious. So, what do farmers do with them? It seems like they are left with only one option, to let them into the wild. Unfortunately, the reality is so much worse. The grown-up lions are left to the hunters, who choose to shoot the animals in so-called ‘canned hunting’ facilities.

Luckily, Born Free Foundation wants to change the bloody status quo and, in partnership with ENGINE creative, Blinklink, and Zombie Studio, it released “The Bitter Bond,” a 2-minute-long video that will simply break your heart into small pieces. The short film was cutely animated with the aim to raise awareness of the issue of canned hunting and push the audience towards signing a petition that urges the South African government to stop this heartless practice.

The sorrowful scenario is underlined by the Academy Award-winning song “Born Free” performed by Matt Monro and tells a story of a real king of the jungle and its ‘childhood’ relationship with its keeper. Its master gives everything to the lion, takes pictures of it and pampers it. Sadly, it all ends in betrayal. Why? Well, those responsible for the well-being of the noble animals are, in the end, the ones responsible for the deaths of the lions. The video deceives the audience a little, making the viewers think that it’s another cute, heartwarming story when, in fact, it is one of the coldest stories you could imagine.

To create the movie, Zombie Studio worked meticulously for three months. The artists combined the richness and beauty of hand-drawn lines with 3D animation. The short movie is inspired by other stories that grabbed the headlines, like Cecil the Lion.

To date, over 84,000 people have signed the petition. What about you? Will you be on the lions’ side? Or on the betrayer’s side? Let us know your thoughts by sharing them in the comment section below.


Client: Born Free Foundation

Agency: ENGINE