Great news, Green Monsters! Animal Defenders International proved successful in their plan to raid illegal circuses across Peru and Colombia and saved 33 lions in captivity! The U.S.-based group was able to rescue 24 of the lions from surprise raids on Peruvian circuses, while nine were “voluntarily surrendered” by a Colombian circus.

As the group shared with The Associated Press, they are considering it the  “largest airlift of lions in history.”

Lion Rescue 1

While this news is extremely exciting, the road to recovery is just starting for these lions. As ADI reported, many of the rescued lions were found in bad shape with almost all of them having been mutilated to remove their claws and many with smashed and broken teeth, an intentional move by the circus to prevent these lions from being able to survive in the wild.

Lion Rescue 4

Thankfully, these animals have been relocated to the Emoya Big Cat Sanctuary, where they are finally going to get the care they deserve. ADI reports, “their forever homes will have acres of natural bush (a separate habitat for each family or pair) with watering holes, platforms, trees, vegetation…” 

Lion Rescue 5

Having been forced to perform for their entire lives up until now, these majestic animals are finally returning to where they belong.

Lion Rescue 2
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As the lions get used to their new environment, their habitats will be expanded. Unfortunately, since they have no prior experience hunting for their own food, they will have to be cared for with food and water for the rest of their lives.

Lion Rescue 3

 

Although these lions have been robbed of a normal life, and will never be able to fend for themselves and hunt as is natural for their species, at least they will no longer be in the cruel hands of the circus industry. Although this victory will not completely alter the bleak-looking future for the endangered African lions, it is one step towards a better future for this species, and that is something worth celebrating.

All Image Source: Animal Defenders International