After a lifetime of suffering and mistreatment in touring circuses in Peru and Colombia, 33 former circus lions are now feeling the African sun on their backs and grass beneath their feet. Following an astounding rescue operation by Animal Defenders International, the lions made the extraordinary journey back to their original habitat (ADI).
Co-founder of Animal Defenders International Tim Phillips stated that it was extremely difficult to locate and save the lions from illegal circuses in Colombia and Peru.
The countries forbid the usage of circus animals, although many traveling circuses operate in isolated locations and went underground once the regulations took effect. According to natureknows.org, ADI teams collaborated with government agencies to locate and capture the creatures.
In order to secure and save the animals, they frequently worked with SWAT squads and riot police. They then had to return the lions to their rescue facilities from far-off locations in the Andes.
Life of suffering
It was an undertaking that required 18 months to complete! 33 lions were among the 100 animals who were spared. These magnificent large cats have undergone a lifetime of pain from being imprisoned in small cages, treated poorly, and disfigured.
They were flown back to Africa, where they originally came from, according to plans made. Sadly, due to their physical state, the lions will never be able to survive on their own. Many have had their teeth broken and claws removed. Tim stated in an interview that although they could return home, they couldn’t return to the wild.
At the Emoya Big Cat Sanctuary in Vaalwater, South Africa, the lions will spend the remainder of their lives in tranquility and freedom.
In a statement, Savannah Heuser, the creator of Emoya Big Cat Sanctuary, claimed that the enormous enclosures in a natural environment will provide the cats with “African sun, African night skies, African vegetation and sounds, clouds, summer thunderstorms, and a location where they may remember who they are.”
One of Tim’s finest achievements, he added, was returning the elderly, broken lions to Africa. Wait until 2:56 in the video below to hear the lions roaring behind him. They appear to be aware they have returned home!
The video below:
This news clip shows the lions entering their new habitat for the first time after this spectacular rescue mission.