Lions Rescued!

PBS assist with the rescue of four lions from a circus in Bolivia! Read the story below and see the lions in their new home!

PBS work in conjunction with ADI (Animal Defenders International) to arrange the transport of four lions, rescued from a Bolivian circus after the success of ADI’s “Stop Circus Suffering Campaign”- which led to the first national circus ban in South America and the world’s first ban on all animal acts.

Once the law had been approved, “Circo Abuhabda” decided to relinquish ownership of five lions and a baboon. At that time, the circus was located in Santa Cruz and contacted the local group “Animales SOS”. The animals were handed over in their beast wagon and the group then contacted ADI, with a request that they take the animals for re-homing.

ADI’s team in Bolivia began to explore different options for a temporary enclosure for the animals in Santa Cruz prior to their export. However, against ADI’s advice, the animals were moved to Cochabamba, a city in the countryside, 12-18 hours through mountain roads, with a very small airport that presented difficulties for the relocation.

Once in Cochabamba, the beast wagon was placed in a metropolitan authority-owned park and the animals entered a political minefield. The local authorities in Cochabamba wanted the animals in their city but the national environment authority, SENASAG and DGB, disagreed. The animals became the centre of a power battle. ADI was not allowed to move them from this unsuitable location, and as a result they had to handle an undesirable situation for them as best they could.

ADI then began a 9 month period of negotiations with the various authorities to get permission to move the animals. ADI made arrangements to relocate the lions at the ARK 2000 sanctuary in San Andreas, California, run by the Performing Animal Welfare Society (PAWS).
Once the permits were secured, ADI and PBS began finalizing the negotiations with airlines for the flights to the US.

However, there were serious problems with Cochabamba airport – it was a small local airport that lacked the loading equipment to get the crates into an aircraft of the size that could take them to the USA. It was suggested that the animals would need to be trucked back to Santa Cruz – a 12-18 hour journey with no means to clean out their cages at the other end before their flight.

A further complication was that there was political unrest, with strikes, riots and road blocks all through the mountains. After liaising with several national and international airlines, the Bolivian airline TAB was able to provide a solution, allowing the animals to fly directly from Cochabamba.

After all those obstacles, on Thursday 27 May the lions were ready to be loaded in the aircraft at 02:00. However, due to a hydraulic failure the aircraft had to be replaced and got to Cochabamba 6 hours after the scheduled time. After much waiting, hoping and expectation, the crates were finally loaded into the plane and took off to San Francisco.

After a quick stop for refueling in Panama, the lions finally arrived in San Francisco. The lions were unloaded in the VIP area of the airport, checked by the ADI veterinary team and they were given a drink of water by ADI Ambassador and CSI actress, Jorja Fox. Afterwards, they were loaded onto two trucks and driven 4 hours, to ARK2000 in the California countryside.