33 circus lions are being airlifted from 'hell on earth' to African sanctuary

Before you go, we thought you'd like these...
Before you go close icon
Circus Lions Rescued in Latin America

33 circus lions are being rescued from circuses in Peru and Colombia by Animal Defenders International. The lions are being airlifted from South America to the Emoya Big Cat Sanctuary in South Africa.

"These lions have endured hell on earth and now they are heading home to paradise. This is the world for which nature intended these animals for," Jan Creamer, the president of Animal Defenders International said in a statement.

SEE ALSO: Kenya says its plan to burn 105 tons of ivory will protect elephants

Nine of the lions were rescued from a circus in Columbia in 2014. The other 24 lions are from Peru and were rescued from circuses over the past two years.

25 lions were transported by Animal Defenders International to sanctuary in the United States five years ago, but this might be the first time a rescue has flown 33 lions in one plane.

Animal Defenders International's general counsel Christina Scaringe told the New York Times that the flight would take 14 to 15 hours and the lions would be taken care of by a team from Animal Defenders International.

Although the lions won't be immediately released into the wild due to injuries that would prevent them from hunting, they will be situated in a large natural enclosures situated in African bush.

"The lions are returning to where they belong," Savannah Heuser, founder of Emoya Big Cat Sanctuary said. "This is their birth right. African sun, African night skies, African bush and sounds, clouds, summer thunderstorms, large enclosures in a natural setting where they can remember who they are."

RELATED: West Africa's vanishing lions​:

7 PHOTOS
West Africa vanishing lions
See Gallery
33 circus lions are being airlifted from 'hell on earth' to African sanctuary
This Friday, July. 13, 2012, photo released by Philipp Henschel shows a male lion cub that is one of a few remaining in Nigeria’s Yankari National Park. New research published Monday, Oct. 26, 2015, shows sharp declines since 1990 in nearly all lion populations in West and Central Africa, and that both regions risk losing half their lions within the next two decades. (Philipp Henschel/Panthera via AP)
This Tuesday, Feb. 24, 2015 photo released by Philipp Henschel shows a lion in the Bateke Plateau National Park in Gabon, a country where lions have not been sighted since 1995. New research published Monday, Oct. 26, 2015, shows sharp declines since 1990 in nearly all lion populations in West and Central Africa, and that both regions risk losing half their lions within the next two decades. (Philipp Henschel/Panthera via AP)
HOLD FOR RELEASE, OCT. 1, 11 A.M. EDT OR LATER; Map shows distribution lions in West Africa.; 2c x 4 inches; 96.3 mm x 101 mm;
In this Thursday, May 14, 2009, photo released by Philipp Henschel, lion survey coordinator Philipp Henschel, second from left, of New York-based Panthera conservation group poses for a photograph with the team that helped him count lions in Nigeria. Henschel has surveyed all 21 protected areas believed to harbor lions in West Africa. (Philipp Henschel/Panthera via AP)
In this Saturday, March 30, 2011, photo released by Philipp Henschel, a lion prowls in Senegal’s Niokolo-Koba National Park, in West Africa. New research published Monday, Oct. 26, 2015, shows sharp declines since 1990 in nearly all lion populations in West and Central Africa, and that both regions risk losing half their lions within the next two decades. (Philipp Henschel/Panthera via AP)
In this Sunday, April. 3, 2011, photo released by Philipp Henschel, a lion prowls in Senegal’s Niokolo-Koba National Park. New research published Monday, Oct. 26, 2015, shows sharp declines since 1990 in nearly all lion populations in West and Central Africa, and that both regions risk losing half their lions within the next two decades. (Philipp Henschel/Panthera via AP)
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE
SHOW CAPTION +
HIDE CAPTION

Read Full Story

Sign up for Breaking News by AOL to get the latest breaking news alerts and updates delivered straight to your inbox.

Subscribe to our other newsletters

Emails may offer personalized content or ads. Learn more. You may unsubscribe any time.

From Our Partners