Circus lion lived in an old pickup truck for 20 years. Watch his reaction when they free him

Mountain lions are solitary, secretive creatures that roam large territories out in the wild, being careful to stay away from people. Little wonder that if a mountain lion is kept in captivity, its mental, emotional, and physical health will suffer. The worse the conditions, the worse the suffering.

For a mountain lion named Mufasa, a life in chains was all he knew. Although most likely born in the wild somewhere in the forests of South America, he had spent the last 20 years in a traveling circus in Peru. His home, if it can be called a home, was the back of a rusty old pickup truck. He was kept in heavy chains and didn’t even have any shelter. Exposed to the elements, mistreatment, and the unwanted attention of gawking crowds, Mufasa was leading a miserable life.

But at least the traveling circus that kept Mufasa in chains was likely the last of its kind in Peru. A recently enacted law banned circus animals, precisely because so many of them had to endure mistreatment and inhumane conditions. Animal Defenders International (ADI) played an active role in helping the authorities enforce the new law. After ADI received a tip-off that a circus was illegally keeping a mountain lion, they teamed up with police and wildlife officials and went to investigate. They found Mufasa but it was only after a tense 8 hour stand-off that the circus owner agreed to surrender the big cat.

We’ve posted a video of Mufasa’s dramatic rescue. As you’ll see, he’s calm and subdued while his chains are removed, as though he’s too beaten down to care. But once the chains are off, he can at long last stretch out and move around without anything restraining him. Mufasa was then taken to the Tambopata nature reserve and released, free to prowl the forest like a normal mountain lion.

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