Five lions and twelve tigers have been rescued from circuses in Guatemala, and have now found a new home at an animal sanctuary in South Africa. Since 2018, when live animal circuses were banned throughout Guatemala, Peru, Bolivia, and Colombia, hundreds of animals were rescued and taken to sanctuaries around the world.
The London-based animal rights group “Animal Defenders International” has been working with to help the Guatemalan government find new homes for the animals, and has so far helped to rescue over 200 animals.
Most of the animals were sent to South Africa, but some of the others ended up at places like the Big Cat Rescue in Tampa, Florida.
The ADI operates the wildlife reserve in South Africa where many of the animals were taken. The animals were transported on chartered flights from Guatemala and then traveled in large trucks to the sanctuary.
ADI President Jan Creamer said that the environment at the sanctuary will be perfect for the animals.
“South Africa obviously has the perfect climate for the lions, and it’s an advanced country in that it has good infrastructure, airports and roads so it helps us to manage the animals and to bring them here,” Creamer said.
Unfortunately, the animals still need to recovery from a lifetime of abuse, neglect, and imprisonment, according to the ADI. Many of the animals need constant veterinary treatment due to chronic health issues caused by inbreeding, while others needed dental surgery from smashed teeth.
The severe abuse that the animals endured is the reason that they cannot be released back into the wild, and must be kept on a sanctuary, where they will be safer and better taken care of.
The ADI says that there are still many circuses in the region who have failed to go along with the new laws, and are still keeping the animals far past the deadline.