Bolivian lions rescued, sent to U.S. wildlife sanctuary
Twenty-five lions have been rescued from circuses in Bolivia by animal rights activist group Animal Defenders International. The thirteen males and twelve females were taken from what were called "deplorable conditions" after Bolivian lawmakers prohibited animals from being used in performances.
Television personality and former The Price is Right host Bob Barker helped finance a jetliner to fly the lions to Denver at a cost of US$200,000, in what was called "Operation Lion Ark". When rescued, most of the lions suffered from dehydration, as well as foot and eye infections.
The jet with the pride of lions landed 4:30PM Mountain Standard Time today, and is waiting in a maintenance hangar for the truck to deliver them to a sanctuary, with police officers armed with assault rifles standing by as a precaution.
Bob Barker stated he was excited to see them on their way to a wildlife sanctuary, where they will live in peace. He also expressed hopes that circus acts will eventually have no more animal acts. "They will be the happiest little babies you ever met," Barker told reporters.
During the rescue, the lions were in their own cages, though one lioness had her three cubs in her cage with her. A veterinarian accompanied them during their trip, and had administered sleep medication to them before they took off from Santa Cruz, Bolivia.
The lions will soon be trucked to their new home, the Wildlife Sanctuary at Keenesburg, 35 miles (56 kilometers) northeast of Denver. The sanctuary had a 15,000-square-foot (4,572-meter) built, so they could adjust to the colder Colorado climate. The Wildlife Sanctuary currently houses 270 wild animals, with wolves, lions, tigers and bears (oh my!) among them.