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

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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.

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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."

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