Animal Defenders International


Animal Defenders International

Operation Lion Ark: ADI plans massive airlift of rescued lions from Bolivia to Colorado

Posted: 19 January 2011. Updated: 9 April 2015


Preparations are underway for what will be a historic and record-breaking animal rescue when 25 circus lions rescued by ADI are relocated from Bolivia to a new home in the U.S.

The lions that lived their lives in tiny cages on the backs of trucks will be moving to a huge new habitat of 80 acres at The Wild Animal Sanctuary near Denver, Colorado, where construction is rapidly progressing on the new facilities which are being built by The Wild Animal Sanctuary and ADI.

After observation, the animals will be released into huge enclosures with lakes and rolling grassland – not unlike their natural habitat.

Watch: Please help save the Bolivian ex-circus lions

Jan Creamer, ADI President who is in Bolivia overseeing the rescue operation: “In the temporary ADI compound in Bolivia, the lions have more space than they ever had with the circus, and they have toys and bedding. But the facilities are still small and basic, so we have to be focused on keeping them safe and secure, whilst building up their strength and health to be ready for the move to the U.S.

“Their new lives will really begin there, so we just need to get them there and that is the real challenge. These animals who for years knew only a small, cramped cage will have freedom to roam, run and play.”

Pat Craig, Executive Director of The Wild Animal Sanctuary: “These Lions have endured incredible pain and hardship, but their new home will be a natural oasis where they can live freely in family prides the way nature intended.”

Every day progress is being made on the state of the art facilities at Colorado in readiness for the arrival of the lions.

Meanwhile, ADI are in contact with a number of airlines, freight companies and even the U.S. military, to secure an aircraft large enough to take all of the animals to America. It will be the biggest airlift of its kind ever.

Jan Creamer: “We’ve called this ‘Operation Lion Ark’ because we plan to move all 25 lions in one go. This means that although they will be crated separately, we can move the entire families of lions together and minimize their time apart. It means that our veterinary team can oversee the lions throughout the flight. We also believe that this will be the safest and most efficient way to move the lions, but it is a huge undertaking.”

ADI are completing paperwork necessary to move the lions, the animals have had all the vaccinations required, and workshops all over Santa Cruz are busy building the travel crates that will be used to move them.

The lions were removed from circuses all over Bolivia in late 2010 by ADI working with the Bolivian authorities enforcing the ban on animal circuses in the country.

ADI has launched an appeal to raise funds for the incredible rescue mission and to help care for the animals for the rest of their lives.

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