The ‘Largest lion airlift’ in history will take place tomorrow, Friday April 29th, and will fly 33 rescued lions from circuses in Peru and Colombia to an animal sanctuary in South Africa.
Photo of Ricardo (one of the lions being rescued from a circus in Peru).
The rescue and airlift is being organized by Animal Defenders International (ADI) – a non-profit that works to protect animals and the environment. They have worked tirelessly with the Peruvian and Colombian governments to pass bans on wild animals in circuses.
“These lions have endured hell on earth and now they are heading home to paradise. This is the world for which nature intended these animals for,” said ADI President Jan Creamer.
24 lions are being rescued from a circus in Peru and 9 from a circus in Colombia.
Despite being at different circuses, all of the lions are in major need of rehabilitation. They have had their claws removed, many have broken teeth, one is nearly blind, and another (Ricardo, pictured above) is missing an eye.
The lions are going to Emoya Big Cat Sanctuary in Africa. There are currently 6 lions and 2 Siberian tigers at the sanctuary anxiously waiting to welcome the 33 South American rescues.
“There are awesome sanctuaries all over the world who take care of lions in a magnificent way, but it’s good to have the lions back in Africa where they belong…The temperature and climate here is the best thing for them,” said the Emoya Big Cat Sanctuary co-founder Minunette Heuser.
The cats will make the journey in special crates – accompanied by a human medical and behavioral team – and organized by social and family groups. They will not be sedated on their journey and all 33 cats will be on the same (large) plane.
The transport is being funded in part by an online crowdfunding campaign by ADI and GreaterGood.com. The campaign has raised half the cost of airfare so far. Bob Barker’s DJ & T Foundation also played a huge role in funding the mission to raid the circuses in Peru and rescue these beautiful creatures.
We are so grateful for groups like ADI and we will be anxiously awaiting updates on tomorrow’s journey!
To learn more about Animal Defenders International – you can check out their website here.
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By Bailey Schroeder, ResQwalk Founder