Animal Defenders International


Animal Defenders International

New video highlights bond of love between lions

Posted: 19 August 2016. Updated: 19 August 2016

Animal Defenders International (ADI) released a video today of two ex-circus lions rescued in Peru and relocated, along with 31 others, to their native land and all now living at Emoya Big Cat Sanctuary in Limpopo province, South Africa.

Watch the video here

Following dental surgery to repair his smashed and broken teeth after years of abuse in the circus, Leo was returned to his room next to Africa in the ADI-Emoya bonding camps. The camps allow the lions to reach each other and reaffirm family bonds or form new friendships, adapt to their environment and get ready to move into their huge natural bush enclosures.

Groggy with anaesthesia, Leo stumbles and his daughter Africa rushes to the fence and seems to urge him as he tries to get to her, even reaching through the fence. Once Leo reaches her, they nuzzle and he settles beside her for a few minutes, but soon recovers and back on his feet as if nothing had happened.

Jan Creamer, President of ADI: “The video shows the strength of the family bond in a lion pride. We are in the process of reuniting this pride which we rescued in separate raids on circuses in Peru and soon they will be released into an enclosure of acres of African bush.”

The massive airlift of 33 lions landed in Johannesburg on 1 May and was part of ADI’s ‘Operation Spirit of Freedom’, assisting the governments of Peru and Colombia with enforcement of their new laws banning wild animal circuses. Over 100 animals were rescued including lions, primates, a tiger and a bear and all but the tiger were found homes in their natural habitats.

Leading veterinary dentist Dr Gerhard Steenkamp of ‘Saving the Survivors’ performed many hours of surgery on the six most serious cases and wildlife expert Dr Peter Caldwell performed sterilisations and eye examinations as many of the lions have sight problems.

Leo was rescued during ADI’s Operation Spirit of Freedom to enforce Peru’s ban on wild animals in circuses but the circus escaped with his mate Muñeca and daughters Africa and Kiara. ADI tracked down the circus eight months later, saved the lionesses and now they are being reunited in South Africa.

ADI is appealing for donations to help complete the large, circular natural habitats that will be home for life for these lions. Separate habitats are being created for each family group, or groups of friends, including specially-designed enclosures for the ‘special needs’ animals with sight problems, arthritis and other ailments.

More about the lions can be found at

Devon Prosser +44 (0)20 7630 3344 or 07785 552548

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