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Rescued Animals go Back to the Jungle with Help from Peru’s Armed Forces

by Lori De Waal Monday, Apr. 27, 2015 at 8:50 PM

Dozens of native wildlife saved relocated to Amazon sanctuary in ADI mission

Animal Defenders International (ADI) has teamed up with Peru’s armed forces to relocate almost forty wild animals to new homes in the Amazon rainforest. The animals were saved from circuses and the illegal wildlife trade as part of ADI’s groundbreaking rescue mission, Operation Spirit of Freedom.

The Air Force and Navy were called in to help ADI transport 39 rescued animals by land, air and river at the request of First Lady Mrs. Nadine Heredia. Several species of monkey, coatis and kinkajous – both small forest-dwelling mammals of the raccoon family – were flown over 600 miles from ADI’s Spirit of Freedom rescue center in Lima to Iquitos by a brand new C27J Spartan jet, courtesy of the Peruvian Air Force. The animals then journeyed by boat down the Amazon River from a Navy dock. Rescuers formed a human chain to take the animals on the final part of their journey into the jungle:

ADI is no stranger to major animal relocations, having previously relocated 29 lions to the USA, but describe this as one of the most challenging relocations ever.

ADI President Jan Creamer said, “The grueling 15-hour relocation operation began at 2am, and we raced against a tight schedule to catch and load the monkeys, coatis and kinkajous into their travel crates. We travelled by road, air and river across Peru to reach the animals' forever home in the Amazon rainforest. Our team gave the animals treats and held nervous individuals' hands to keep them calm during the flight. All the animals were torn from the wild, so it was magical to take them back to the jungle. After Pepe the spider monkey was released, he gave me a big hug before heading out into the trees. One by one, all the animals scampered from their crates into their wonderful new homes.”

ADI has been working in incredibly difficult conditions in the rainforest for the past three months to construct new habitats at Pilpintuwasi sanctuary located in the Amazon rainforest. The animals will spend the rest of their lives living as close as possible to how they would in the wild, in lush, semi-captive habitats built and funded by ADI.

The successful completion of this complex relocation marks the beginning of the final stage of a historic rescue mission. ADI’s Operation Spirit of Freedom is the biggest rescue and enforcement operation of its kind, and has seen Peru’s circuses emptied of its wild animals over the past eight months.

“Many of these animals were snatched from their families in the wild and it is incredibly moving to see them back in the jungle where they belong" said ADI President Jan Creamer, who is leading the mission. "Our utmost thanks go to Peru’s First Lady, the armed forces, the authorities, Pilpintuwasi and our supporters who have made this complex mission possible. Our biggest challenge lies ahead – airlifting Cholita the bear and 34 big cats to the US – please help us get them there by making a donation today.”

Almost 80 animals have been rescued from circuses and the illegal wildlife trade as part of ADI’s Operation Spirit of Freedom so far. The mission will culminate with the Spirit of Freedom flight in June – a huge airlift of 33 lions, a tiger and a bear. The animals are destined for The Wild Animal Sanctuary in Colorado where large acreage habitats are being prepared for them. Operation Spirit of Freedom is expected to cost ADI over .2 million, with the biggest single cost being the airlift to the US, for which the organization has launched an international appeal for funds.

ADI will continue to work in partnership with Pilpintuwasi sanctuary and has committed to continue to fund the animals’ care.

Please donate to help ADI care for the native wild animals in their new home and complete Operation Spirit of Freedom: 323-935-2234.

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