The lions made the amazing trip back to their birth place after a huge rescue effort by Animal Defenders International (ADI).
Tim Phillips, Animal Protectors International founder, claimed rescuers faced incredible challenges in tracking down and rescuing the lions from illegal circuses in Peru and Colombia.
Circus animals are banned in the countries, but several traveling circuses operate in remote areas and relocated underground after the laws went into impact. ADI groups dealt with government authorities to find and take the animals, writes natureknows.org.
Many times they were accompanied by SWAT teams and trouble cops in order to protect and rescue the animals. They then had to transfer the lions back from remote areas in the Andes and back to their rescue centers.
It was an effort that took 18 months to complete! Of the 100 animals saved, 33 were lions. These magnificent big cats have endured a life time of suffering, confined to tiny cages, maltreated and mutilated.
Arrangements were made to fly them back to their land of beginning– Africa! Sadly, the lions will certainly never be able to survive on their own because of their physical condition. Several have had their claws removed and their teeth smashed. “They can not go back to the wild but they can return home,” Tim claimed in an meeting.
The lions will certainly live out the rest of their days in peace and freedom at Emoya Big Cat Sanctuary in Vaalwater, South Africa.
” African sun, African night skies, African bush and sounds, clouds, summer thunderstorms, big enclosures in a natural setup where they can remember who they are,” Savannah Heuser, founder of Emoya Big Cat Sanctuary, said in a statement.
Tim said bringing the battered, old lions back to Africa is one of his proudest minutes. Wait until you hear the lions roaring behind him at 2:56 in the video below. It’s as if they recognize they are back home!