Animal Defenders International


Animal Defenders International

ADI Spirit of Freedom lion relocation Q&A

Posted: 3 July 2015. Updated: 9 July 2015

Why are the lions being relocated elsewhere?

As a result of a change in critical circumstances, Operation Spirit of Freedom’s needs cannot be met at TWAS and the organizations have concluded that it is better for the sake of the animals to pursue more conducive alternatives.

In addition to logistical changes, including severe restrictions in access to the animals – no handover of caregivers – and unreasonable demands by TWAS made it impracticable for ADI to see the rescue through to completion by taking the animal to TWAS. The best interests of the animals have always been and will always be our foremost concern. We are happy to report that the animals are going to a home that provides first-rate care and meets all of the animals’ complex needs.

This decision has not been taken lightly, but we need to forge ahead and see the Operation to completion. To that end, ADI is working with multiple government departments in three countries (Peru, Colombia, USA) and we are completing transport crates, arranging ground and air transport and documentation at huge financial cost.

ADI has rescued and re-homed hundreds of animals, and has built a network of partner sanctuaries around the world that provide exceptional care that the animals deserve. It is to be expected that circumstances change and delays occur during long and logistically complex rescues such as Operation Spirit of Freedom. However, these changes and delays have benefited the operation in that they have enabled us to rescue the three missing lionesses, Muñeca, Kiara and Africa, Cholita the bear and Condorita the condor, Mufasa the mountain lion and several more monkeys, from a lifetime of suffering. Our policy is that we do everything we can to ensure that no animals get left behind.

We continue to relocate over 80 animals rescued so far during Operation Spirit of Freedom to permanent homes where they can live out the rest of their lives in habitats that are as close as we can get to the natural life that has been stolen from them. You can see the monkeys enjoying their permanent homes here. We look forward to providing updates on all of the animals as we complete our mission.

Where and when are the animals going?

ADI has already successfully placed more than half of the 80 animals rescued during Operation Spirit of Freedom, and we look forward to completing the rest of our mission. ADI has confirmed a new home for the lions and this will be announced as all details of the transfer are confirmed. The lions will have a wonderful new life.

The final series of animal rescues will occur in the next few weeks, and we will report developments as we complete work on new homes for all the animals, including Cholita the ‘real-life Paddington bear’ and Mufasa the mountain lion. This is Operation Spirit of Freedom’s most exciting phase – ensuring there are no animal circuses left in Peru, and relocating our precious rescued animals to their new homes.

Decades of undercover investigations, legal, economic and scientific research, planning, passionate lobbying and high risk sacrifices are made to get permanent legal protections for animals, for the animals’ opportunity to enjoy freedom, health and welfare for the remainder of their lives. Wonderful homes have been, and are being prepared for all of the animals, and ADI looks forward to sharing updates on Operation Spirit of Freedom in the coming weeks – we will be sure to keep you updated as soon as we are ready to announce their new home.

What will happen to my donation?

Despite the change of destination for the lions, the costs for their care and the Flight to Freedom remain, and donations made for Operation Spirit of Freedom have been and are being used solely for that purpose, as originally contemplated and intended. Your donation is an essential component to our work and we are grateful. We are mindful of the intent in which your donation was given and we are applying your donation in the manner in which it was intended: to benefit the animals. If you donated for Cholita, that money will go towards construction of her new home and her journey there. Any surplus raised will go towards helping the other animals that are not the focus of special appeals.

The next weeks will see exciting developments as we conduct the final series of animal rescues and complete work on new homes for Cholita the ‘real-life Paddington bear’ and Mufasa the mountain lion.

Our ultimate goal for Operation Spirit of Freedom is, and has always been, to give the animals the freedom they deserve. We hope that you will continue to support us as the rescued animals look towards the best days of their lives in new homes where they can live as nature intended.

Please donate to help ADI complete Operation Spirit of Freedom: UK £ / US $

Questions about the movie, Lion Ark

Education and awareness are vital for changing laws and is responsible for saving many more animals than even rescues like Operation Spirit of Freedom. It is changes in people’s attitudes and legal protection (for example the ban on cosmetics testing in Europe saving 30,000 animals per year) that can save millions and change the future of animals. That is what Lion Ark is about – it is an important educational tool about the behind-the-scenes suffering of animals in circuses, encouraging people to take action and has had a major impact on audiences. As they leave the theatres, people are telling us that they had no idea of the suffering and will never go to the animal circus again. That is the result that we were looking for – a documentary that people would want to watch and which would change minds. ADI’s ultimate goal is to end the use of animals in entertainment, and we never lose sight of this.

Some have got the idea that TWAS was not featured in the movie, Lion Ark – as anyone who has seen it can attest, this is not the case. Pat Craig, Casey Craig and TWAS were interviewed and featured in Lion Ark and the Sanctuary’s name was put on screen – obviously – this is part of the story. In addition, ADI has been handing out TWAS contact details at Lion Ark screenings. Having said that, it is important to remember that the movie Lion Ark was not about the Sanctuary – it documents the campaign and rescue of all of Bolivia’s wild animals from circuses – the investigations, the public campaign for a law to ban animal circuses, the passing of the new law, the seizure of the animals to enforce the law – it is about the work of a group of people who set out to push for change and the animals that were saved. TWAS features heavily as the final homes of the lions. Obviously in order to fit the story into 90 minutes much of ADI’s work during the rescue in Bolivia could not be featured, including the rescue of many horses, the rescue of the first four lions who went to California, and Tilin the baboon who was saved and flown to a sanctuary in the UK.

Lion Ark and Operation Lion Ark – the Bolivia rescue – has nothing whatever to do with the current rescue of the animals from Peru and Colombia. We are not making a movie of this rescue. But we do film our rescues – it is vital for engaging the public in countries like Peru and Colombia. Remember, it was ADI undercover footage and our videos that secured the bans in Peru and Colombia, this is how awareness is raised and animals are helped.

The claim that ADI purchased a RED film camera is untrue – we do not, and have never owned a RED camera.

The claim that ‘Americans’ paid large fees to care for the lions is untrue. Our carefully selected and committed team of volunteers paid no fees; they were provided with basic accommodation and transportation between the local airport and the rescue centre.

© Animal Defenders International 2019