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Huge Rescue Mission Launched in Peru to Save Suffering Circus Animals

by Animal Defenders International Monday, Aug. 18, 2014 at 10:47 PM
lori.dewaal@dewaalpr.com 323-462-4122

ADI calls for circus lion who attacked teacher to be handed to authorities.

Animal Defenders International (ADI) is embarking on an important collaboration with Peru’s authorities including SERFOR (wildlife and environment), ATFFS (enforcement), and the Police.

ADI are providing complete logistical support for the Peruvian authorities as they enforce rules to eliminate the suffering of wild animals in traveling circuses.

In the past week the ADI and SERFOR teams have removed nine lions from three different circuses in Huaral, Ayacucho, and Cusco, where it was only possible to remove three of six lions from the circus. At the weekend, the remaining male attacked a female teacher during a performance. The woman was thankfully not seriously injured, and ADI is urging that the lion, and two cubs, be handed to SERFOR for ADI to relocate. ADI has issued a statement explaining that the circus caused the lion to be distressed and angry and should not have put him in the show with the public. The circus had taken the castrated lion, Smith, away from his cage mate, Amazonas, and put him with cubs that were not his. He should not have been performing when upset. The circus is at fault, not the animal.

The animals in ADI’s care are being held in a temporary custody center specifically built by ADI for the rescue mission, called Operation Spirit of Freedom. All animals will be cared for in the compound, which is also a quarantine facility, before being relocated to specialized sanctuaries.

The wild animals in circuses are being removed under legislation passed in Peru in 2012. Five South American countries, and a total of 27 worldwide, have banned the use of all or wild animals in circuses. The operation in Peru, overseen by SERFOR Director Fabiola Muñoz, will be one of the largest animal welfare enforcement operations undertaken in the world.

Jan Creamer, ADI President: “We are pleased to be assisting the Peruvian authorities with this important mission to save animals from suffering and which can put Peru at the forefront of animal protection law enforcement in South America.”

ADI has worked all over the world rescuing and relocating animals in difficult circumstances. In 2011, ADI successfully worked with the Bolivian Government to enforce a nationwide animal circus ban. The mission, known as Operation Lion Ark, saw 29 lions from eight circuses airlifted to safety in the US and numerous other animals rescued and relocated in Bolivia – the operation is the subject of award-winning documentary “Lion Ark”.

The Peruvian authorities have also placed three capuchin monkeys rescued from the pet trade at the Spirit of Freedom center, which are currently in specially built ADI holding runs until homes can be found at sanctuaries.

The rescue in Peru is being entirely funded by donations from ADI supporters. Legendary award winning game-show host Bob Barker has made a substantial contribution to launch the rescue, and ADI supporters around the world are raising funds – including sponsoring individual animals, their food and veterinary care, their travel crates or their temporary holding cages in the Spirit of Freedom compound.

Jan Creamer, ADI President: “ADI has been working in Peru for many years, campaigning for an end to circus suffering and we have always been committed to assisting the authorities with enforcement. We are also grateful for the amazing compassion and generosity of Bob Barker and the ADI supporters who are making this possible.”

In the US, ADI is working to end the use of wild animals in traveling circuses through HR 4525, the Traveling Exotic Animal Protection Act (TEAPA), which was introduced by Rep. Jim Moran (D-VA) into the 113th Congress in April and has secured 21 co-sponsors to date.

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