Thirty-three circus lions that have been rescued from Peru and Colombia in South America have been micro-chipped ahead of their historic journey to a sanctuary in Limpopo.

By Mpho Raborife

Microchips were inserted in the big cats ahead of what Animal Defenders International President Jan Creamer described as “the biggest airlift of its kind”. “The lions don’t know that their lives are going to change forever, from years of suffering in circuses, they will live in natural enclosures under the African sun.

“This is like a person applying for a visa for the trip of a lifetime.”

Creamer said the process of moving a large number of wild animals across international borders was complicated, especially when it involved three countries. “We are grateful for the collaboration of officials in Peru, Colombia and South Africa to make this happen for these lions. It can only lead to more strong animal protection law enforcement in future.”

The lions will make a new home in natural bush enclosures at the Emoya Big Cat Sanctuary in Limpopo, Creamer said. “These lions have all endured sad, painful and terrible lives, but the new laws in Peru and Colombia have set them free. We are looking forward to taking them back to their homeland to retire in peace, living the rest of their days under African skies.”

The big move was set to take place in November.