Sunday 13 December 2015

Abused circus lions set to go back to Africa

A TRAGIC pride of 33 circus lions is being airlifted to Africa so the big cats can live out their days in the land of their forefathers.

PUBLISHED: 00:00, Fri, Dec 11, 2015 | UPDATED: 14:51, Fri, Dec 11, 2015

The rescued big top performers have suffered unbelievable cruelty but are being flown home in jumbo jet luxury next month - at the price of a first class ticket per animal.

It will cost a British charity almost £500,000 to fly the 33 lions across the Atlantic and settle them in a natural sanctuary where they can feel Africa's soft red soil under their feet and sense the smells and sounds of the bush.

The airlift is being staged by the British-based Animal Defenders International (ADI) and is the climax of Operation Spirit of Freedom, a year-long mission helping the governments of Peru and Colombia enforce laws that prohibit wild animals in circuses.

For the lions it will be a timely end to years of misery. The litany of injuries and suffering they have endured in their lives as big top performers is appalling.

Almost all have been mutilated to remove their claws. One has lost an eye, another is almost blind and many have smashed and broken teeth because of their lives working in the circus.

"This is an animal rescue on a very large scale, because it is effectively multiple animal rescues all at once," says Animal Defenders International President Jan Creamer.

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