Animal Defenders International


Animal Defenders International

Free at last! ADI saves two ex-circus lions and a tiger

Posted: 1 February 2007. Updated: 16 April 2015


Operation Big Cat Rescue flies cats to a new life in South Africa

Animal Defenders International (ADI), the world’s foremost circus investigation and campaign group has secured a new life this week for two ex-circus lions and a tiger, currently in Portugal.

After being seized from a Portuguese circus, the animals will fly to a new life in the ADI Rescue Centre at Hoedspruit Endangered Species Centre in South Africa on Thursday 1st February. ADI had discovered the animals languishing neglected in a Portuguese back street after the circus ran out of money.

There had originally been four animals – two lions, Caesar and Sarah, and two tigers, Tarzan and his mate, Royale. Unfortunately poor Royale remained in poor health and sadly died earlier this month, just a couple of weeks away from freedom.

But lucky Caesar, Sarah, and Tarzan will fly to Johannesburg on Thursday 1st February and are destined for ADI’s Big Cat Rescue Centre at the Hoedspruit Endangered Species Centre in Northern Province. They will stand on grass and feel the sun on their backs and faces, with no bars, for the first time in their lives.

Jan Creamer, ADI’s chief executive will be in Portugal for the move and explained today: “The tiger, Tarzan is only five and could easily live for another 10 years. The lions, Sarah and Caesar, are around seven or eight, and will probably reach the age of 15. At this age they should be at the peak of their physical prowess, which makes it all the more heartbreaking to imagine them living out their lives in cramped cages, never having walked on grass or really stretch their legs and run. These animals will meet bushes and trees for the first time in their lives.

"Life in the traveling circus for animals such as these is one of cramped conditions, constant confinement and limitation, deprivation and day-to-day intimidation and violence. When audiences see the big cats come rushing through the curtains into the ring to perform degrading tricks, what the audience sees is not enthusiasm and happiness – it is because someone is behind the curtain with a whip or an iron bar.

"ADI plans to house Caesar, Sarah and Tarzan at our Big Cat Rescue Centre for the rest of their natural lives. We already have two tigers there, rescued from another circus. There’s a vet on-site and the animals will huge natural bush enclosures to explore. Their senses are about to be stimulated by wind, sun, rain, earth, grass and other animals; things they have never experienced will now be part of their lives. It is time for humanity to try to give back to these animals the life that we took away from them. It’s time to make amends.”

Launch of ‘Operation Big Cat Rescue’ appeal

Launching the ‘Operation Big Cat Rescue’ appeal, Jan Creamer said:
"We desperately need the public to take up responsibility with us for helping these animals, to put right a terrible wrong. We need money to pay for their upkeep for the rest of their lives, and we need money to help other animals in distress so that they can go to the Big Cat Rescue Centre.

Anyone can simply go to our website to donate online to ensure their future and others in distress like them.” Click here to make a donation.


Samantha Janus, currently in ‘Guys & Dolls’ with Don Johnson ex-‘Miami Vice’, and celebrity supporter of ADI, commented: “These animals have been abused and made to suffer terribly at the hands of human beings. They have been deprived of everything that makes life good for a lion or a tiger. It is time for all of us to take responsibility and do something to make up for what these animals have lost. Please help the ADI Rescue Centre to care for these animals for the rest of their lives. The ADI Rescue Centre needs help and donations to make a difference for these animals, and for many others who can be rescued from similar situations in future. Please help ADI to make a difference with your donations.”

Click here to see photo gallery of story so far.

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