Rescued Circus Lions Will Taste Freedom On Memorial Weekend

Four neglected lions that performed in the Bolivian circus will be spending Memorial Weekend as VIP’s in their new retirement home at the ARK2000 Sanctuary.  They are the first of the animals to be freed and transported out of the country since Bolivia enacted a ban on circuses from using animals in their acts.  


The New York Times reported, the journey for these kings of the jungle was organized by, Animal Defenders International (ADI).  The lions will all retire in a specially built habitat at the northern California sanctuary, which is run by the Performing Animal Welfare Society (PAWS). 


“Hopefully, these lions are going to have a really nice Memorial weekend – home in time for the holiday,” said Tim Phillips, the co-founder of ADI.


The lions left by jet from Cochabamba, Bolivia, at 6 a.m. on May 27, will refuel in Panama and land in San Francisco in the afternoon.  A reception is planned in their honor at San Francisco International Airport when they arrive.


The lions are flying in specially built crates and are accompanied by ADI President, Jan Creamer and the organization’s veterinarian, Dr. Mel Richardson. 


Everyone will stay in San Francisco for the night and make their way to the the ARK2000 Sanctuary on May 28.  The lions should be settled in their new habitat by Friday afternoon. 


CSI actress Jorja Fox will be attending the VIP reception.  She said, “It will be truly wonderful seeing them walk free in their new enclosure, to feel the grass beneath their feet for the first time ever.  What a way to start Memorial weekend.”


The lions were rescued after living many years in a small rusty cage on the back of a truck while they performed for a circus.


Animal Defenders International organized the move for the big cats, which included mounds of paperwork, approval from the Bolivian government and even ash from the volcano in Iceland. ADI also arranged for the lion’s new home in the U.S. 


ADI fought for the ban in Bolivia and is now campaigning in Peru and Brazil.  But stopping animals from performing in circuses poses a new problem: “Where will all these out-of-work circus animals go?”  Some animals will be sent to zoos in Bolivia, but many others need new habitats.  And most of these will be in other countries. 


Animal Defenders International is standing behind every former circus animal until they are all re-homed. 


“We campaigned for this ban, so we will do what it takes to find homes to care for the animals,” Phillips said.  “The government has already spoken to us about eight more lions.”


The cost to relocate the first four lions is about $350,000 and will include a $100,000 enclosure for them at the sanctuary.  Animal advocate, Bob Barker has graciously covered the cost.


“Circuses with animals are cruel and archaic,” said Mr. Barker.  “I commend the Bolivian government for taking this progressive step and hope that other South American countries, and indeed the U.S.A., will follow suit.”



photo credit: thanks to on vacation mode via flickr for the great lion pic


Philippa P.
Philippa P7 years ago

I'm so glad they are free!

Vanessa S.
Vanessa S7 years ago

I am so happy for these lions. I just visited a big cat sanctuary in Ohio over the weekend, and it was great to see that all the animals were living a decent life compared to where they came from. The name of that sanctuary is Noah's Lost Ark. It and other organizations like it and the ones listed above need our support as the work they do is very costly.

Inez Deborah Altar

I do not care much for lions since I read here on care2 that lionesses allow the lions to kill their first cubs, and then just breed again with the lion who killed their cubs, unless he was preventing incest!

Moertl M.
Martha M7 years ago

We should grow up and stop using animals for our bloody amusements.

Valerie Van Den Broeck
BLABLA B7 years ago

The relieve of this animals make me so happy :)
No one should be abused, just for amusement. I can't believe there are people who think different.

sherrie e.
sherrie e7 years ago

Kudos to Bob Barker and all he does for the animals! And many thanks that the Bolivian gov't. allowed this to be a reality! Life free and comfortable lions! Have a happy reat of your lives!

Lisa Martin
Lisa Kelly7 years ago

Thank you Mr. Barker!

Heidi C.
Heidi L7 years ago

I'm glad to hear they are no longer part of the awful circus!

Nadia D.
Nadia Donato7 years ago

Thank you for this wonderful news!
Please boycott all circuses with animal acts. Also, please support PAWS for all the great work they do in giving these animals a place to flourish and live the rest of their lives free from cruelty and abuse.