Animal Defenders International


Animal Defenders International

The Flight to Freedom

Posted: 7 July 2010. Updated: 15 October 2015


Once the permits were secured, ADI began finalizing the negotiations with airlines for the flights to the US.

Right: ADI Ambassador Jorja Fox, with Camba at San Francisco Airport

However, there were serious problems with Cochabamba airport it was a small local airport that lacked the loading equipment to get the crates into an aircraft of the size that could take them to the USA. It was suggested that the animals would need to be trucked back to Santa Cruz a 12-18 hour journey with no means to clean out their cages at the other end before their flight.

A further complication was that there was political unrest, with strikes, riots and road blocks all through the mountains.

Watch: Video Diaries from the Rescue with Jorja Fox

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:


Right: The lions are loaded in Bolivia, for their flight to the USA

After liaising with several national and international airlines, the Bolivian airline TAB was able to provide a solution, allowing the animals to fly directly from Cochabamba.

After all those obstacles, on Thursday 27 May the lions were ready to be loaded in the aircraft at 02:00. However, due to a hydraulic failure the aircraft had to be replaced and got to Cochabamba 6 hours after the scheduled time. After much waiting, hoping and expectation, the crates were finally loaded into the plane and took off to San Francisco.


Right: CSI’s Jorja Fox gives the lions a drink before their drive to their new home

After a quick stop for refueling in Panama, the lions finally arrived in San Francisco. The lions were unloaded in the VIP area of the airport, checked by the ADI veterinary team and they were given a drink of water by ADI Ambassador and CSI actress, Jorja Fox. Afterwards, they were loaded onto two trucks and driven four hours, to ARK2000 in the California countryside.

© Animal Defenders International 2019