13 April 2011

Lions rescued from South American circus find new home in Colorado

Eight of the most beautiful predators on the planet will be given a new lease on life this week after being rescued from an abusive South American circus. The family of African lions had been crammed into an eight by 12 foot trailer in Bolivia and had spent years living within the confined space with no freedom to roam. Animal Defenders International (ADI) confiscated the eight lions plus three other prides for a total of 25 animals which were recently airlifted to a refuge in Colorado. The other animals seized were six monkeys, a coati mundi, a deer and a horse.

All of the carnivorous animals are now living at The Wild Animal Sanctuary (TWAS), a 320 acre habitat with open grassy plains and a specially built 15,000 square foot heated “biosphere” building with grass, trees and other natural details. The four prides of lions will remain inside the heated building until they have gained enough weight, muscle and medical attention to be released outdoors. Many needed serious dental surgery and other medical procedures after spending years in brutal captivity. ADI was able to confiscate the animals after Bolivia passed a recent law banning the use of animals in circus acts.

Pat Craig, executive director of the sanctuary, said the animals all came from “incredibly deplorable conditions” but will be “roaming freely in wild open spaces for the rest of their lives. "It is remarkable to see just how much they’ve improved in such a short period of time,” he said.

To help defray the costs of rehabilitating and supporting the lions, which range in age from four months to 15 years, TWAS has created an adoption program where interested humans can sponsor the animals each year. The average cost per year of keeping just one of these magnificent creatures alive is no less than $8000 making the total for the four prides at least $200,000. More information on the program can be found at www.wildanimalsanctuary.org.

The sanctuary is home to only large carnivores such as lions, tigers, bears and wolves who have come from abusive situations and is 30 miles northeast of Denver. More than 295 predators currently live within the 31 year old sanctuary, which is the oldest and largest facility in the United States. It is open to visitors daily and provides observation decks and walkways to view the animals.

Kathryn Lorusso
Kathryn is a former journalist and English teacher who now counsels and mediates teenage drama on a daily basis in the Dallas, Ft. Worth metroplex. Time away from school is spent cooking up new macrobiotic/vegan specialties, writing various blogs and newsletters and taking as many bikram yoga classes as possible.