LOS ANGELES--()--Last week Operation Lion Ark touched down in Denver, CO – a single DC10 aircraft carrying 25 rescued circus lions from Bolivia, in the biggest rescue operation of its kind in history. Animal Defenders International (ADI) organized the huge mission with the financial backing of TV personality Bob Barker.
“Too much animal protection legislation is passed but not effectively implemented. We were determined that with Bob Barker’s support we would enable the Bolivian authorities to actually enforce this legislation. To set an example to countries all over the world that strong animal protection legislation can be vigorously enforced.”
Six years ago, ADI launched a series of undercover investigations, exposing circus suffering across South America. The ADI field officers worked inside circuses in Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru. The campaign that followed led to Bolivia banning all animals in circuses and similar legislation is being discussed in Brazil and Peru.
With the campaign desperately short of funds, Bob Barker stepped in to give the ADI team a massive boost with a donation of $2 million. The contribution meant that ADI could set about a mission to ensure that the Bolivian law was actually implemented, and pave the way for ending animal suffering in circuses across South America.
Jan Creamer, ADI President: “Too much animal protection legislation is passed but not effectively implemented. We were determined that with Bob Barker’s support we would enable the Bolivian authorities to actually enforce this legislation. To set an example to countries all over the world that strong animal protection legislation can be vigorously enforced.”
Animal circuses in Bolivia were given a year to dispose of their animals. Within months, the first circus went animal free and handed all their animals, lions and a baboon to ADI. Mr. Barker’s support allowed the lions and baboon to be airlifted to sanctuaries in the US and UK, and showed the Bolivian authorities the way forward.
The next Bolivian circuses were not willing to give up their animals. In November 2010, with the backing of the authorities, ADI began a search and seizure operation all over Bolivia. All of Bolivia’s remaining circuses were closed down and every animal was seized including lions, monkeys and other animals. All of the animals rescued except the lions were relocated in Bolivia, with several animals returned to the wild.
Finally, the lions needed to be airlifted to a new life and so Operation Lion Ark carried 25 lions to freedom at a sanctuary in Colorado last week.
Jan Creamer, President of ADI: “In one fell swoop the suffering of circus animals has been ended in Bolivia. Importantly, this operation has set a global precedent on effective implementation of animal protection legislation; it shows how NGOs like ADI can work on enforcement. Bob Barker’s support has allowed us to seize these animals, evacuate the animals to safety, and make substantial investment in the facilities at the sanctuaries. Many more animals could benefit from this important operation.”
The backing of the former Price is Right star has also enabled ADI to step up the pressure for bans elsewhere in South America with further exposés of shocking animal suffering in the name of entertainment.
Bob Barker said, “I am delighted to have helped ADI give these animals a wonderful new life after they have endured so much misery. Circuses are no place for animals, and lions and tigers should not be forced to live in small cages on the backs of trucks, or elephants forced to live in chains in the name of entertainment. Circuses with animals are cruel and archaic. I commend the Bolivian Government for taking this progressive step and hope that other South American countries, and indeed the USA, will follow suit. These animals have had a chance to start new lives in the US and a new era without circus suffering has started in Bolivia.”
About Animal Defenders International (ADI):
With offices in Los Angeles, London and Bogota, Animal Defenders International (ADI) campaigns to protect animals in entertainment; replacement of animals in experiments; worldwide traffic in endangered species; vegetarianism; factory farming; pollution and conservation. ADI also rescues animals in distress worldwide. ADI gathered evidence has led to campaigns and legislative action all over the world to protect them.
ADI’s Mission: To educate, create awareness, and promote the interest of humanity in the cause of justice, and the suppression of all forms of cruelty to animals wherever possible to alleviate suffering, and to conserve and protect animals and the environment.