33 Lions Who Were Kept Captive In South American Circuses Just Went Home To South Africa

Not long ago, Animal Defenders International set a new record. When a plane carrying the precious cargo of 33 lions departed from Lima, Peru, in transit to Johannesburg, South Africa, it was the largest exodus of rescued big cats in history.

The lions had all been rescued from illegal circuses in Peru and Colombia. Though Peru passed a law making incarceration of wild animals illegal, it hasn’t stopped a number of motivated circus owners. Underground circuses are still being tracked down and raided to this day.

The transport, which ADI dubbed Operation Spirit of Freedom, enabled the lions to move from a life of captivity to a life of liberty. While they aren’t able to live as wild lions due to injuries sustained in the circus, they will have access to fresh air and fun.

“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.”

ADI is tireless in their pursuit of animal rights. They have spearheaded many operations just like this one, freeing animals from cruel situations all over the globe.

Learn more about Operation Spirit of Freedom in the video below! What did you think? Leave us a comment, we’d love to hear from you!

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