Last Sunday 33 lions rescued from illegal circuses in Peru and Columbia came back to where they belong – Africa. The largest big cat airlift ever was carried out by Animal Defenders International (ADI), and the long-abused lions will now live at Emoya Big Cat Sanctuary in Vaalwater.


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“Before ADI rescued them, these animals had never felt the grass beneath their feet or the sun over their heads. Yesterday, they were in the African bush,” Jan Creamer, president of ADI, said in a statement. “This has been a really important mission because it has eliminated circus suffering in Peru, saving future generations of animals. Getting the animals home has been exhausting and exhilarating.”

The lions wouldn’t survive in the wild because they’ve been mutilated by their previous circus owners (many of them have broken teeth and removed claws.) They’ll be prevented from breeding but they’ll be cared for by the sanctuary (which relies completely on donations) for the rest of their lives. If you’d like to make a donation then you can do so here.

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Last Sunday 33 lions rescued from illegal circuses in Peru and Columbia came back to where they belong – Africa

“These animals had never felt the grass beneath their feet or the sun over their heads”

The long-abused lions will now live at Emoya Big Cat Sanctuary in Vaalwater

The largest big cat airlift ever was carried out by Animal Defenders International

“This has been a really important mission because it has eliminated circus suffering in Peru, saving future generations of animals”

“Getting the animals home has been exhausting and exhilarating”

These are 32 lions rescued by ADI  from illegal circuses. Even swat teams were involved in some of the operations

Iron, the first lion to be released, enjoys his “very satisfying rub against a tree, his first ever”

The lions wouldn’t survive in the wild because they’ve been mutilated by their previous circus owners

But they’ll be given the best care possible at the sanctuary for the rest of their lives