Tue. Sep 22nd, 2020

Seventeen rescued circus lions and tigers begin their new life in South Africa

Twelve tigers and five lions were recently relocated to the ADI Wildlife Sanctuary (ADIWS) in South Africa by Animal Defenders International (ADI).

seventeen rescued circus lions and tigers begin their new life in south africa 1024x677 - Seventeen rescued circus lions and tigers begin their new life in South Africa

On 22 January 2020, twelve tigers and five lions officially started their new life in South Africa after being recued from a Guatemalan circus.

The big cats were relocated to the ADI Wildlife Sanctuary (ADIWS) in South Africa by Animal Defenders International (ADI).

The animals’ journey to freedom marks the successful conclusion of the organisation’s 18-month ‘Operation Liberty’ mission, during which ADI assisted authorities with enforcement of Guatemala’s animal circus ban.

Jan Creamer, President of ADI, said:

“These animals have experienced a lifetime of suffering and abuse in circuses in Guatemala but those days are over. At the ADI Wildlife Sanctuary, our place of loving kindness, the tigers and lions can run, play, and explore their wonderful, natural surroundings under the African sun. The beginning of the rest of their lives, we could not be happier for them.”

An epic journey

According to a press release, the epic journey to freedom began on 18 January at the ADI Temporary Rescue Center in Guatemala, where the animals have been cared for since their rescue. One by one, the seventeen big cats were coaxed into their individual travel crates. Once secured and given time to settle, their journey of a lifetime got underway. The travel crates were lifted onto the trucks to take the animals to board the ‘Operation Liberty’ flight from La Aurora International Airport in Guatemala City.

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Photo: Supplied/ADI Wildlife Sanctuary

During the flight, which made stops in Mexico, Belgium, and Qatar to load and unload cargo before reaching its final destination in South Africa, the big cats were monitored by veterinarian Dr Howard Rosner and provided with in-flight meals and water by ADI founders and rescue team leaders Jan Creamer and Tim Phillips.

For the final leg of their journey home, the animals travelled once again by truck to the 455- acre sanctuary in the Free State.

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Photo: Supplied/ADI Wildlife Sanctuary

Banning the use of animals in circuses

After banning the use of animals in circuses in April 2017, the government of Guatemala invited ADI to help enforce the law after it came into effect twelve months later, as several circuses were defying the law.

With the organisation having successfully completed similar missions in Bolivia, Colombia, and Peru, ADI sprang into action. After launching Operation Liberty in May 2018, ADI quickly established a Temporary Rescue Center in the country to care for the rescued animals until they could be relocated to their forever homes.

All of the animals have received veterinary treatment since arriving in ADI’s care, with several experiencing health issues due to inbreeding, and others requiring dental surgery to repair damaged teeth.

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