Wednesday, 4 May 2016

33 Lions Who Spent Their Lives In The Circus Just Went Home To Africa

May. 02, 2016

The cargo plane that carried 33 lions from Lima, Peru, to Johannesburg, South Africa, over the weekend broke more than records.

It broke chains. For good.

The lions, all rescued from illegal circuses in Peru and Colombia, were part of the biggest exodus Animal Defenders International (ADI) has ever organized. Rescuers say it was the biggest lion transport ever.

But more importantly, the passage to South Africa, dubbed Operation Spirit of Freedom, represents a new beginning for lions who had been languishing in circus cages for years, their lives seemingly forfeit to profit.

On Sunday, they arrived at Emoya Big Cat Sanctuary in Vaalwater, South Africa.

"Before ADI rescued them, these animals had never felt the grass beneath their feet or the sun over their heads. Yesterday, they were in the African bush," Jan Creamer, president of ADI, said in a statement. "This has been a really important mission because it has eliminated circus suffering in Peru, saving future generations of animals. Getting the animals home has been exhausting and exhilarating."

It took more than a year to liberate them all, as authorities working alongside ADI staff tracked each animal. It wasn't easy. Some circuses, illegal in Peru since 2011, went underground to avoid giving up their dubious "assets."

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