Animal Defenders International


Animal Defenders International

Colorado sanctuary ready to receive record-breaking lion airlift

Posted: 15 February 2011. Updated: 9 April 2015


On February 16th, the Animal Defenders International (ADI) Lion Ark will touch down at Denver International Airport with 25 lions rescued from circuses in Bolivia en route to a fabulous new life for the lions at The Wild Animal Sanctuary (TWAS), Keenesberg, Colorado.

A huge indoor facility has been constructed at TWAS on almost 10 acres to acclimatize the lions before they are released into huge outdoor enclosures covering 80 acres (32 hectares).

The lion rescue began with a series of dramatic seizures the length and breadth of Bolivia by ADI, who worked with the authorities to enforce Bolivia’s Law 4040 which bans the use of animals in circuses, after uncovering the systematic abuse and neglect of circus animals across the country. And now these extremely lucky lions will at last find sanctuary and have hope for the future.

Jan Creamer, ADI’s President said: “These lions that have lived all their lives in tiny cages on the backs of trucks will have more space, freedom, care and respect given to them than they could ever have possibly wished for, and they absolutely deserve it.

“These animals, who have endured so much hardship and suffering for so long, can at last be lions, as they were intended to be, and they now have a future that they so richly deserve. One of the things that so excites us about TWAS was their ability to build large family groups of lions, so that they can live in prides as they would in the wild.”

Established by Executive Director Pat Craig in 1980, TWAS is the oldest and largest nonprofit sanctuary in the U.S. dedicated exclusively to rescuing captive exotic and endangered large carnivores. The site comprises 320 acres, sheltering more than 200 lions, tigers, bears, leopards, mountain lions, wolves and other large carnivores.

In anticipation of their arrival, construction of the lions special 80 acre (32 hectare) state of the art enclosure has been advancing at a rapid pace and the facilities being built by The Wild Animal Sanctuary and Animal Defenders International are nearing completion.

Pat Craig said: “Our sanctuary is absolutely ideal for this extremely lucky pride of lions, and we will provide them with a wonderful life for as long as they live.

“At TWAS, the animals come first – we provide expert care and rehabilitation, exceptional diets and enrichment, and large spaces in which to roam make life for our rescued animals the kind of life they would have if they chose it.”

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

When rescued by ADI, some of the lions were extremely malnourished, stressed and traumatized by their experiences. But with attention by ADI’s veterinary team, and affection, patience and understanding by the ADI team, their transformation has been remarkable. And their condition will continue to improve as their rehabilitation continues.

Creamer said: ”The scale of the structure and speed of the work has been incredible, and when you compare the lives that they have led before - to where they are going –you can see just how far they have come.

“They have been brought back from the brink and now paradise awaits these lucky lions in Colorado. We can’t wait to get them there.”

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