Animal Defenders International

 

Animal Defenders International

ADI's Record Breaking Lion Ark Touches Down!

Posted: 19 February 2011. Updated: 9 April 2015

Animal Defenders International’s record breaking ‘Operation Lion Ark’, a rescue that began in Bolivia last November, ended on February 16 when 25 lucky lions touched down at Denver airport at 4:00 pm, en route to their specially constructed 80 acre enclosure at The Wild Animal Sanctuary (TWAS) in Keenesburg Colorado.

Watch: The Lions Are Home!


Operation Lion Ark is the biggest rescue and airlift of lions ever seen.

As the plane touched down on the tarmac, it brought to a roaring crescendo a perfect storm of campaigning activity that effectively closed down the animal circus industry at a stroke in Bolivia – the first time this has happened anywhere in the world. What began in Bolivia in 2005 with an ADI undercover investigation that exposed horrific abuse in circuses across South America finally came to a successful end today.

These 25 lucky lions have been on the journey of a lifetime, leaving behind suffering and deprivation from their time spent in circuses in Bolivia. Up until now, all they have known is deplorable conditions, neglect and abuse. They have been brought back from the brink and now paradise awaits them.

The Lion Ark was met by Jorja Fox, CSI’s Sarah Sidle, and celebrity TV presenter Bob Barker, whose substantial support has made the project possible so far. In recognition of his generosity, ADI have named one of the rescued three month old lion cub’s after him, and the two ‘Bob’s’ met at the airport for the first time.

Jan Creamer, ADI’s President said: “Operation Lion Ark has brought to a roaring crescendo a perfect storm of campaigning activity over the last few years that has led to this important victory for circus animals.

“We are absolutely delighted to have rescued these magnificent lions. They have suffered so much, but can at last look forward to a bright future in their specially constructed enclosure in Colorado and at last they will be free. I really can’t believe that this monumental rescue is finally over and we are now here on U.S. soil with all 25 lions safe – I am absolutely elated!”

Former host of the Price is Right and ADI supporter Bob Barker said: “I am pleased and proud to say that a couple of contributions of mine helped ADI in their history making accomplishments in Bolivia – and I will tell you that I got my money’s worth.”

CSI actress and ADI Ambassador, Jorja Fox said: “These majestic animals have been through so much and now through the compelling and daring acts of ADI, they are finally on their way to a life of ease, dignity, and grace at the sanctuary. Considering the life they have led, it was moving when the lions took their first steps in their new home. Well done to ADI for this roaring rescue success!”

The rescue began with a series of dramatic seizures the length and breadth of Bolivia by Animal Defenders International who worked with the Bolivian 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.

Spearheaded by ADI President Jan Creamer, and Vice President Tim Phillips, the ADI team seized 25 lions, some of which were extremely malnourished and included three cubs, and nursed them back to health in their compound at Santa Cruz, under constant veterinary supervision, and the watchful eye of the police. As part of the process, 6 monkeys, a coati mundi, a deer and horse were also rescued and relocated in Bolivia or returned to the wild.

In preparation for the Lion Ark arrival, 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. The lions range from cubs of just three months old to an elderly lion aged 15.

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.

Pat Craig said: “We have been working non‐stop for the last eight weeks constructing a new state of the art building for the lions, and we have been focused on creating the perfect new home for them. Now, these lions will start a totally new chapter in their lives, one we are confident they will enjoy. The Wild Animal Sanctuary is proud to be working with Animal Defenders International on this project, and we look forward to the future, as both of our organizations continue to make a true difference for animals in desperate situations.”

Creamer said: “From this day, there will be no more appalling scenes like the ones we witnessed of animals suffering in circuses in Bolivia. This is the first time in history that an animal protection group and a government have worked so closely and systematically to eradicate animal suffering. As well as being wonderful for the animals saved, this sets an incredibly important precedent.

“Bolivia has set a shining example to the world and we now encourage other government’s to stand up and act, like Bolivia, to do the right thing for animals currently languishing in circuses throughout the world.”

You can adopt the Lion Ark prides and receive a certificate, DVD and regular updates on the animals in newsletters.

© Animal Defenders International 2017