Photo: Tim Lenz under a Creative Commons license.
In a series of rescue operations in the past few months, Animal Defenders International (ADI), an animal protection group, and Bolivian authorities have freed 25 lions from circuses throughout the South American country. The removals of the lions from the circuses were in accordance with Bolvia's Law 4040, signed last January by President Evo Morales, banning the use of wild and domestic animals in the country's travelling circuses. Now recovering from lives of deprivation and poor treatment, the lions are temporarily living in a Santa Cruz compound, until they can reach their new home, nearly 5,000 miles away.The 25 lions are headed for the Wild Animal Sanctuary outside Denver, Colorado, a 320 acre area of grassland that is already home to more than 200 lions, tigers, bears, and other carnivores, all living in sprawling, species-specific habitats. Talk about moving on up: the Bolivian lions, which range in age from 12 years old to a few months, have only known terrible living conditions. Eight lived in the same cage, about 115 square feet large, kept on the back of a truck. The air lifting of the lions from Bolivia to Colorado has been dubbed "Operation Lion Ark," says ADI President Jan Creamer:
We've called this 'Operation Lion Ark' because we plan to move all 25 lions in one go. This means that although they will be crated separately, we can move the entire families of lions together and minimize their time apart. It means that our veterinary team can oversee the lions throughout the flight. We also believe that this will be the safest and most efficient way to move the lions, but it is a huge undertaking.
But getting the lions to their new home is an expensive proposition, and to that end, ADI has launched an international appeal for donations. You can visit their website to learn more about the lions' story and to donate to the cause.