Animal Defenders International


Animal Defenders International

Update on ADI mission to save circus animals in Guatemala

Posted: 16 May 2018. Updated: 10 March 2019


GUATEMALA CIRCUS RESCUE MISSION STATUS: ADI has a team in Guatemala helping enforce the ban on animals in circuses. We have removed fifteen tigers and six lions from circuses and they are in our care at the ADI Temporary Custody Center. Guatemala’s ban came into force in April, we negotiated the handover of the first 15 big cats, recently removed a further 6 tigers, and now just one circus is defying the law. There are a further 12 tigers, 2 lions, 2 pumas, 1 camel, 2 spider monkeys, and 2 porcupines. ADI HOPES TO RESCUE EVERY ANIMAL.

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The Guatemalan wildlife department (CONAP) is working through the court to seize the remaining animals, but we don’t know how long this will take. ADI would like to also commend Guatemala’s agriculture ministry’s Animal Welfare Unit (UBA), who have worked tirelessly to make this ban a reality and helped us enormously.

Most of the animals rescued to date will be going home to the new ADI Wildlife Sanctuary in South Africa, with three tigers going to Big Cat Rescue. Located in the US, the sanctuary is providing financial support for the animals they are taking. It can take many months to secure the paperwork to move the animals, that’s why we have built exercise enclosures to keep the lions and tigers healthy and entertained – thank you to everyone who has donated. ADI also organized veterinary teams and supplies necessary for health protocols and microchipping prior to export.

This rescue is complicated and comes at the same time as we are establishing our own sanctuary! We really appreciate how everyone has stuck with us on this mission. The prize will be another country emptied of suffering circus animals, and the opportunity to transform the lives of up to 40 animals. The stress and heartache will be worth it!

Our special thanks to the brilliant team at, who have once again launched a fundraising campaign to support the rescue of these animals and will be helping us to get the lions back home, to Africa.

To bring the lions home to Africa and build their forever home at ADI’s new sanctuary, click here.

Watch as the first 9 tigers and 2 lions are rescued! See more videos here.

Previous updates:

13 November 2018: Six more tigers SAVED from circus suffering in Guatemala! ADI has rescued six more tigers from circus suffering in Guatemala, as we continue to help enforce the country’s ban on animal circus acts. Read more »

8 September 2018: A new member of the ADI lion pride! Meet Tomas, a lovely male lion, who arrived suddenly into our care in the ADI Temporary Rescue Center in Guatemala. Read more »

4 September 2018: Health checks for ex-circus big cats. Fourteen ex-circus big cats have undergone a raft of health checks to get the travel permits needed to take them home. Four of the big cats required surgery to repair damage caused in the circus. Read more here »

25 July 2018: Rescued circus lions walk on grass for the first time! Enjoy the moments when five rescued circus lions walked on grass, ran and played! Watch now »

11 June 2018: First big cats SAVED following Guatemala circus ban! A mission to enforce a new law banning the use of animals in circuses in Guatemala is now underway, with Animal Defenders International (ADI) removing the first animals – lions Sasha, Nena, and Kimba. Read more here »

11 May 2018: Rescue mission launched to save circus animals! unites with Animal Defenders International to launch mission to rescue caged lions in Guatemala. Read more here »

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