Animal Defenders International


Animal Defenders International

This Valentine’s Day, rescued lions Tarzan and Tanya only have eyes for each other

Posted: 14 February 2019. Updated: 14 February 2019

As the sun sets in Guatemala, lions Tarzan and Tanya cozy up at the Animal Defenders International (ADI) Temporary Rescue Center. This devoted duo has a love that has carried them through the hardest times, and as Valentine’s Day approaches they continue to shower each other with affection.

Before being rescued last year as part of ADI’s Operation Liberty mission to help enforce a ban on wild animal circus acts in the country, these big cats spent eight years in a small, bare circus cage. During their time in the circus, Tarzan was in a fight with a tiger; his lower lip still droops down after it was ripped away from his chin. His untreated, broken, and infected teeth – commonly seen in circus big cats – left him in constant pain, but once rescued, Tarzan underwent dental surgery. His transformation was remarkable: where he had previously been subdued and cautious, within days his inner kitten emerged and he began to play.

The lion couple now spend their days playing and relaxing with one another, a Tarzan tongue head wash for Tanya being a mutually enjoyable encounter!

Watch our special Valentine’s Day video of their story here.

Despite being the smallest lion rescued by ADI, brave Tanya is Tarzan’s protector, patrolling to keep others away. ADI believes the scars on her face are from Tanya trying to defend Tarzan during that savage encounter with a tiger. While she watches over and guards him, Tarzan is a soothing influence on Tanya, calming her if she gets spooked.

ADI President Jan Creamer says, “It’s wonderful to see this loving lion couple so happy and carefree after the terrible suffering they endured while in the circus. Now let’s give them their happy ever after and get them home to Africa!”

This courageous and loyal lion couple will be spending their next Valentine’s Day roaming a huge natural enclosure at the new ADI Wildlife Sanctuary in South Africa, along with most of the 19 other big cats rescued in Guatemala (three tigers will go to Big Cat Rescue in Florida). The organization hopes to surgically repair Tarzan’s lip once he arrives at the sanctuary.

To support their Operation Liberty rescue mission and stop circus suffering for good in Guatemala, ADI is asking the public to donate here.

Media Contacts:

US: Lesley McCave, ADI Communications Director | (323) 935-2234 or (323) 804-9920 |

UK: Devon Prosser, Press Officer | 020 7630 3344 or 07785 552548 |

© Animal Defenders International 2019