Rescued Bolivian Circus Lions Arrive In Colorado

Over the past several weeks, I have been reporting about Operation Lion Ark and the rescue of 25 lions by Animal Defenders International from deplorable living conditions in Bolivian circuses.   The organization tracked down each lion after the country began the first-ever nationwide ban on the use of live animals in circuses.


On Wednesday Operation Lion Ark came to a happy conclusion as all of the lions landed at Denver International Airport to start their new lives at a wildlife sanctuary. 


The jet with 14 male lions and 11 females pulled into a United Airlines hangar at 4:30p.m.


The arrival of the lions in Colorado was met with fanfare and celebration.  Television personality and animal advocate Bob Barker was on hand to greet each lion as its crate was removed from the plane. 


Barker helped finance the $200,000 airlift operation. 


Actress Jorja Fox from CBS’ “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation,” was also on hand.


In an interview with The Associated Press Bob Barker said this about the lions, “They will be the happiest little babies you ever met.”


And as the first cage was moved off the plane, Barker yelled, “Lion No. 1, come on down,” mimicking the way contestants were introduced on his game show, “The Price is Right.”


Each lion was housed in a separate cage, except a mother lion who shared a crate with her three rescued cubs.


Veterinarian, Mel Richardson traveled with the lions from Santa Cruz, Bolivia to Colorado in an 11-hour flight.  Each lion was given sleep medication before the trip.  Richardson said all of the lions were in “relatively good health.”


Jan Creamer, president of ADI has personally overseen the entire rescue mission of Operation Lion Ark.  She said,”This has been a dream for so long, to empty a whole country of its circus animals.”


The lions will now be trucked to their new permanent home at the Wildlife Sanctuary in Keenesburg, CO.  A 15,000 square-foot “biosphere” was built to help them adjust to the chillier climate.  The long-term care of the lions will be paid for by ADI.


The sanctuary is home to about 270 wild animals, including lions, tigers, bears and wolves.


(The photo above is Kimba, the final lion rescued by ADI.)


Related Story:

Last Circus Lion is Free

Animal Defenders International


William C
William C2 months ago

Thanks for caring.

W. C
W. C2 months ago

Thank you.

Natasha Salgado
Past Member 4 years ago

Just awsesome news!! Thanks

LMj Sunshine
James Merit5 years ago

Thank you for sharing!

LMj Sunshine
James Merit5 years ago

Thank you for sharing!

Susan Griffiths
Susan Griffiths5 years ago

Bolivia’s Law 4040 which bans the use of animals in circuses came about after ADI officers went undercover to expose the horrific abuse in circuses across South America. I stress again the absolute importance of undercover work to expose cruelty and effect change. The animal lovers who do this undercover work risk so much and have to endure witnessing horrific cruelty. They are my absolute heroes. Thank you ADI and your sponsors.

jorge v.

El Circo es para divertir a las familias, pero nunca a costa de animales, ya que es muy mal ejemplo usarlos y/o maltratarlos...Please make it the action..!!

Martha Eberle
Martha Eberle6 years ago

I read about the rescue, and this is a happy ending to the story of captive animals that can't be released back into the wild. At least they're out of the circus, and will have acres and acres to run and live. I guess the deer that live in the sanctuary will be food for the lions? It's real life.

Judith Howard
Judith Howard6 years ago

Circuses are one of the worst places for any animal to spend its life in. As long as people go to these shows, they keep these hell holes in business.

Garden Bros recently stopped using animals in their shows and I hope to see that trend continue.

This is a happy ending for any animal in circus life, that it gets a life free from abuse and cages.

Teresa N.
Teresa N.7 years ago

This is wonderful! I wish Africa would realize the wildlife is her most important asset and stop killing everything. Same for those out west killing all the wolves.