Animal Defenders International


Animal Defenders International

Remembering Nena

Posted: 12 February 2020. Updated: 12 February 2020


As the 5 lions and 12 tigers rescued by ADI from circuses in Guatemala begin their new life at the ADI Wildlife Sanctuary we are heartbroken that lioness Nena is not with them.

Nena was one of the first animals rescued from a circus in Guatemala in May 2018 along with Sasha and Kimba (later Tomas came from the same circus). Her joy rolling in the hay and playing as she was released from her circus cage for the first time at the ADI Temporary Rescue Center was one of the most moving moments of the rescue.


She had known only a small cage and bare boards but in ADI care she experienced grass under her feet for the first time, a soft bed of hay, and enrichment such as tires and bags of hay filled with catnip – with a large log her first ever toy!

Unfortunately Nena’s health deteriorated, an extensive veterinary examination revealing that she had five mammary tumors, an infected uterus, emphysema, and other problems. The difficult decision was made to euthanize her last year.

This devastated the ADI team in Guatemala who cared for her and loved her. The last time an animal passed away in an ADI Temporary Rescue Center during one of these rescues was ten years ago – a remarkable record, and testament to our team’s care, given how unhealthy many of these animals are and the appalling backgrounds they have. As sad as we are, we are pleased that Nena was given the love, respect, and care she deserved during the last 16 months of her life.

Adopters of Nena were notified but this public announcement was delayed on Guatemalan government advice due to the relentless campaign to stop the rescue by certain circuses and their supporters – the very people responsible for the health issues that are tragically prevalent in the Guatemalan animals due to chronic in-breeding and poor care.

We are sorry to bring you this sad news when everyone is so happy with the arrival of the 17 lions and tigers at the ADI Wildlife Sanctuary, but we felt it was time to mark the passing of this wonderful lioness.


We will never forget Nena and are grateful she had a chance to run on grass, battle her huge catnip toys and swing on her tire.

Thank you to every ADI supporter who gave her this chance and we promise to never stop working to help these animals that have so many odds stacked against them.

Find out about the rescue here and the ADI Wildlife Sanctuary here.

© Animal Defenders International 2020