Animal Defenders International


Animal Defenders International

Rescued circus tigers arriving in Florida from Guatemala

Posted: 20 November 2019. Updated: 20 November 2019

Rescued from a life of circus suffering in Guatemala by Animal Defenders International (ADI), Bengal tigers Max, Simba, and Kimba will arrive at Miami International Airport (MIA) on Monday, November 25 before completing the final leg of their journey by road to forever home Big Cat Rescue (BCR) in Tampa.

After banning the use of animals in circuses in 2017, the government of Guatemala invited ADI to help enforce the law, as the Los Angeles-based organization has successfully done, in Bolivia, Colombia, and Peru. Operation Liberty was launched in May 2018, ADI establishing from scratch a temporary rescue center in the country to care for the animals rescued until they could be relocated to their forever homes.

Male adult tigers Kimba (2.5 years old), Max and Simba (both 9 years old) were among a group of lions and tigers rescued from Circo Hermanos Ponce in June 2018. The circus had agreed to voluntarily surrender the animals but in a tense, daylong operation, ADI had to step in and stop circus workers severely beating and terrifying the youngest, Kimba, on two occasions. The 18-month old was so terrified that the veterinary team had to medicate him. Meanwhile, the ADI rescue team endured verbal abuse and intimidation, theft of their tools, and a circus worker exposing himself.

ADI has rescued a total of 15 tigers and 6 lions during Operation Liberty, including the remaining six tigers from Circo Hermanos Ponce, who had refused to hand over the animals when Max, Simba, and Kimba were taken into ADI’s care. The family of 6 tigers, including two cubs, were found and removed by ADI from a junkyard in November 2018. Aside from the three tigers going to Big Cat Rescue, the other big cats will be relocated to the new ADI Wildlife Sanctuary in South Africa.

Jan Creamer, President of ADI, said: “Max, Simba, and Kimba are going home for Thanksgiving, and we couldn’t be happier for them. Animal Defenders International is hugely grateful to Big Cat Rescue for giving our rescued tiger trio the happy ending they deserve, in their forever home.”

At BCR, Max, Simba, and Kimba will each enjoy their own spacious, natural enclosure with a freshwater pool for swimming, with trees, soft grass and foliage, dens, and large platforms. They will have the best medical and dental care and nutrition, as well as mentally stimulating and fun enrichment treats at least twice a week.

Big Cat Rescue Founder and CEO Carole Baskin said, “Big Cat Rescue is thrilled to become the permanent forever home for these three former Guatemalan circus tigers. Big cats should not be forced to perform tricks and unnatural behaviors in circuses. We applaud Guatemala for banning wild animals in circuses and look forward to the day when all countries have ended this cruel, inhumane practice.”

ADI and BCR would like to thank the Guatemalan government for its commitment to enforcing the law and eliminating the use of animals in circuses; to departments CONAP and the animal welfare division (UBA), animal protection group ARCAS, and the Guatemalan army for their support and assistance; and Priority Worldwide Services for helping to make the tigers’ relocation possible.

For details about the move, please contact Lesley McCave, ADI Communications Director, at (323) 935-2234 or email

© Animal Defenders International 2020