Animal Defenders International


Animal Defenders International

Background: Circus gives up five lions and a baboon

Posted: 7 July 2010. Updated: 15 October 2015


Stop Circus Suffering Bolivia

In 2005, ADI conducted an undercover investigation in South America that covered Peru, Ecuador, Bolivia and Colombia (which was then followed by Brazil).

In Bolivia, our investigation showed monkeys in tiny crates and cages; a lion cub that never left his small cage; lions living on the backs of lorries; pregnant lionesses forced to keep performing and even jump through rings of fire; and three brown bears, whom we had already encountered in Peru, living in a beastwagon: their only exercise was the walk to and from the circus ring, where they were forced to ride a bicycle, dance and play dead.

The Background to the Release

Read more on the remarkable journey of how these four ex-circus lions arrived in California after a life in the circus:

ADI’s Stop Circus Suffering campaign was launched in Bolivia in 2007 with our campaign partners, including Educación y Bienestar Animal (EBA). The Bolivian public were horrified by the conditions the animals were forced to endure, and local bans were secured in Santa Cruz and La Paz. A year after our launch, further bans were secured in El Alto, and Cochabamba.


Law 4040 bans the use of animals in circuses in Bolivia

Soon after these successes, ADI saw an opportunity and drafted a proposal to ban wild animals under a Presidential Decree on biodiversity.

Despite almost a year of negotiations the proposal failed to materialise. In response, we changed our approach and started again working with Congresswoman Ximena Flores, representative of the Department of Potosi.

After an intense campaign, in June 2009 the Bolivian Congress approved Law 4040 banning the use of wild and domestic animals in circuses throughout the country. This is the first national circus ban in South America and the world’s first ban on all animal acts. Circuses were given one year to adapt their shows and become animal free with the law becoming effective in June 2010.

The new task-in-hand is to give these animals, many of whom have spent years living in circuses, new homes.


Circus gives up five lions and a baboon

Shortly after the approval of Law 4040, Circo Abuhabda decided to relinquish ownership of five lions and a baboon.

At that time, the circus was located in Santa Cruz and contacted the local group “Animales SOS” the animals were handed over in their beastwagon and the group contacted ADI with a request that we take the animals for rehoming.

As always our commitment was to relocate them in a specialized sanctuary abroad, and to fund their care for the rest of their lives.

Our team in Bolivia began to explore different options for a temporary enclosure for the animals in Santa Cruz prior to their export. However, against ADI’s advice, the animals were moved to Cochabamba, a city in the countryside, 12-18 hours through mountain roads, with a very small airport that presented difficulties for the relocation.

Once in Cochabamba, the beastwagon was placed in a metropolitan authority-owned park and the animals entered a political minefield. The local authorities in Cochabamba wanted the animals in their city but the national environment authority, SENASAG and DGB, disagreed. The animals became the centre of a power battle. ADI was not allowed to move them from this unsuitable location, and as a result we had to handle an undesirable situation for them as best we could.

Read more:

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