Animal Defenders International


Animal Defenders International

Rescued circus lions step out into the sunshine

Posted: 14 April 2011. Updated: 7 April 2015

LOS ANGELES AND KEENESBURG, CO, Apr. 14th April, 2011 – Eight circus lions, rescued by Animal Defenders International (ADI), that once lived in a stinking, cramped cage on a circus trailer will this week leap into the good life when they are released into a 20 acre natural habitat at The Wild Animal Sanctuary, Colorado.

Earlier this year, Animal Defenders International airlifted 25 lions to Colorado from Bolivia in the record-breaking Operation Lion Ark. After a major undercover investigation and campaign by ADI, Bolivia banned the use of all animals in travelling circuses. During November and December 2010, an ADI team, working with the Bolivian authorities raided every circus in Bolivia, rescuing every animal – in the most dramatic enforcement operation of it’s kind ever undertaken. A full time ADI team of ADI vets and carers then treated the animals and built up their strength in a holding centre in Santa Cruz, Bolivia, before the animals were flown to Colorado in February.

Since arriving in Colorado the lions have been living in a special biosphere, funded by ADI, whilst they acclimatised and continued to grow stronger. Now they are ready to enjoy their new home.

Jan Creamer, President of ADI, remembers the day the eight lions being released today were seized:
“We were in a really remote area of Bolivia, which most of our team had to reach by light aircraft, and the owner of the circus had threatened to kill the lions if we tried to remove them. When we arrived, there was a huge confrontation, the circus owner pulled out a knife and then slashed the tyres of the vehicle we were loading the lions into. Eventually, we calmed the situation down, changed the wheels and took the lions to safety.

“I have seen circuses all over the world and I have never seen lions so severely confined as in this circus. Eight full grown lions were crushed in a space of about 6 foot by 12 foot. They walked on each other. One small lion, Campeon was sick and his legs were twisted and deformed – he could barely stand. It is a miracle that they all survived.

“It will be truly incredible for this family of lions that has endured so much to really be free at last. To feel the sun on their backs and to be able to run and play. This is a wonderful occasion.”

At the sanctuary, ADI is committed to funding the construction of enclosures on an 80-acre site generously provided by The Wild Animal Sanctuary (TWAS).

Matt Rossell, Campaigns Director ADI: “A terrible wrong was done to these lions and now it is being put right. These animals symbolise so much of what we strive for at ADI, through our investigations, campaigns for new legislation, and rescues. This is also a unique collaboration between TWAS and ADI to provide a future for these animals. We are so pleased that they are ready to start exploring and enjoying the great outdoor spaces they have to roam in beautiful Colorado.”

When the lion arrived in February they were greeted by TV presenter Bob Barker who funded Operation Lion Ark, and CSI actress Jorja Fox.

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ADI Campaigns Director, Matt Rossell, will be onsite for media interviews. Tel: 323-804-9920.
Agnes Huff, PhD, tel: 310-641-2525 or

Video footage and photographs of the lions as they were discovered in the circus; their seizure from the circus by ADI; and the airlift to Colorado are available from ADI.

The lion rescue began with a series of dramatic seizures the length and breadth of Bolivia by ADI, who worked with the authorities to enforce Bolivia’s Law 4040 which bans the use of animals in circuses, after uncovering the systematic abuse and neglect of circus animals across the country.

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.

Animal Defenders International
6100 Wilshire Blvd., #1150, Los Angeles, CA 90048.
Tel: 323-935 2234. Fax: 323-935-9234.

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