Animal Defenders International


Animal Defenders International

‘Operation Lion Heart’ - Valentines day rescuers prepare to load 25 lions in record breaking airlift

Posted: 15 February 2011. Updated: 15 February 2011

The record breaking lion rescue by Animal Defenders International (ADI) moved a step closer to lift off today.
‘Operation Lion Ark’ is due to take off from Bolivian soil on Wednesday 16th February, and will take 25 lucky lions on a flight to freedom to a state of the art wild animal sanctuary in the USA. This will be the biggest rescue and airlift of lions ever seen.

The animals have been rescued from shocking conditions in circuses throughout Bolivia and have amazed the ADI team with their strength of character and recovery.

Jan Creamer, ADI’s President who is directing the rescue effort in Bolivia said: “These are truly remarkable beasts, who continue to amaze us with their recovery.

“When we rescued them from their terrible conditions in the Bolivian circuses, many were malnourished, stressed and traumatized by their experiences. But with round the clock veterinary care, love and attention, their transformation continues to be remarkable and bears testament to their courage and will to survive.

“People refer to those who are brave as ‘having the heart of a lion’, and we have been lucky enough to see first hand what that really means.

“All 25 of these ‘bravehearts’ thoroughly deserve the life that awaits them in Colorado. They will have acres to roam in and at last they will be allowed to be lions as nature intended. At last they will be free.”

The dramatic rescue began last November when ADI, working with the Bolivian authorities to enforce Bolivia’s Law 4040 which bans the use of animals in circuses, began to seize animals from the circuses. The ban came into force after ADI uncovered the widespread abuse and neglect of circus animals throughout the country, and successfully lobbied politicians to enact a ban.

Moving swiftly throughout the country, Animal Defenders International seized 25 lions in just a few months. During the dramatic rescue ADI also seized 6 monkeys, a coati mundi, a deer and a horse, all of which were rehomed to Bolivian sanctuaries or released back into the wild.

Tim Phillips, ADI’s Vice President who is in Bolivia with Jan said: “These animals continue to demonstrate that they have true lion hearts. When we rescued them, some had suffered so much and were in such appalling condition that we really were concerned for their welfare, and in some cases wondered whether they would in fact pull through.

“But, as soon as we got them to the sanctuary of our compound and began to look after them correctly, they surprised us with the speed of their transformation and recovery. They are now alert, their coats are shiny, they have put on weight and they are no longer dehydrated. They roar and talk to each other – they purr and sometimes we’re sure we even see a smile.

“These lions who have suffered so much, have now turned the corner and we are now impatient to get them to their amazing new home at The Wild Animal Sanctuary (TWAS) in Colorado, USA.”

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.

Here the ADI pride will at last find sanctuary in their special 80 acre (32 hectare) state of the art enclosure which is being built by The Wild Animal Sanctuary and Animal Defenders International.

The ADI compound on the outskirts of Santa Cruz is a hive of activity, where the lions are undergoing their final series of veterinary checks, their specially constructed travel crates are being constructed and final paperwork is being completed. The lions range from cubs of just three month old to an elderly lion aged 15.

Creamer concluded: “The incredible effort that has seen ADI rescue every circus animal in Bolivia began in 2005 with an ADI undercover investigation that exposed horrific abuse in circuses across South America. This amazing story is reaching a crescendo in Bolivia and we hope that the effects will be felt throughout the world.”

To learn more about this amazing story of triumph over adversity and make a donation to help with the rescue effort, visit, or call (323) 804-9920.


About Animal Defenders International:
With offices in Los Angeles, London and Bogotá, Animal Defenders International campaigns to protect animals in entertainment; replacement of animals in experiments; worldwide traffic in endangered species; vegetarianism; factory farming; pollution and conservation. ADI also rescues animals in distress worldwide. ADI-gathered evidence has led to campaigns and legislative action all over the world to protect them.
ADI’s Mission:
To educate, create awareness, and promote the interest of humanity in the cause of justice, and the suppression of all forms of cruelty to animals wherever possible to alleviate suffering, and to conserve and protect animals and the environment.
Media Contact:
Agnes Huff, PhD, Agnes Huff Communications Group, Phone: 310-641-2525


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