Rescue team catches circus after public tip off
MARCH 13, 2015, Piura, Peru - Animal Defenders International (ADI) and Peruvian authorities SERFOR, ATFFS, the National Police and department of Piura have successfully raided an illegal circus today, rescuing three lionesses and two monkeys as part of a collaborative effort to enforce the country’s ban on the use of wild animals in circuses.
ADI has now removed 24 lions from Peruvian circuses and has in its care almost seventy animals rescued during ADI's Operation Spirit of Freedom.
ADI urged members of the public to be vigilant for any circuses defying the law. Following a tip off, ADI has been trailing the circus for over a week while liaising with the authorities in preparation for today's seizure.
Early this morning the circus suddenly moved with vehicles leaving in different directions but thanks to an ADI team the vehicle with the animals was stopped just outside Sullana, just north of Piura.
The three lionesses called Africa, Kiara and Muneca, and two monkeys, Valeria and Valentino, are on their way to the ADI Operation Spirit of Freedom rescue center near Lima, where they will join the 21 lions, 31 monkeys and other wild animals who have been saved from circuses and the illegal wildlife trade during the groundbreaking rescue mission. A further nine lions are in ADI's custody in Colombia.
ADI will be relocating all of the animals to their permanent homes in the coming weeks. Native wildlife will be rehomed in jungle habitats, which are being constructed by ADI in the Peruvian rainforest, at Pilpintuwasi in Iquitos and IkamaPeru. A total of 33 lions, including 9 from a circus in Colombia, will fly on the biggest airlift of its kind to The Wild Animal Sanctuary in the US.
ADI President Jan Creamer said “The ADI mission has always been to ensure no animals are left behind. We are elated to have saved these animals today and they will get their chance of a new life on the ADI Spirit of Freedom flight. We will remain vigilant. There should be no wild animals in circuses so if anyone sees one - they should call ADI."
Jan continued: "this is a historic day for Peru as ADI, SERFOR, the ATFFS and police have shown wild animal acts have no place in modern society and will not be tolerated."
The ban on the use of wild animals in circuses in Peru was secured after a five-year campaign by ADI and Peru's animal protection groups, following its shocking two-year investigation of South American circuses. The investigation led to five national bans on wild animals in circuses in Latin America - worldwide 30 countries have banned wild animal acts.
Efforts by ADI to stop circus suffering in Peru and enforce the law have been supported by the public and local animal organizations including United for Animals (UPA), Amazon Shelter, Peruvian Association of Animal Protection (ASPPA) and Animals Without Borders (ASF).
ADI is funding all rescue operations in Peru and the huge cost of relocating the animals - the largest single cost will be the flight to the USA.
Jan Creamer: "This is a wonderful day but it meant bringing our rescue team and trucks loaded with cages up to Piura. Tonight our precious cargo will be traveling back to Lima where we will have five more mouths to feed and three more travel crates to build. We urge people to please donate to help this mission.
Peru’s ban on wild animals in circuses was passed in 2012 following a successful campaign by ADI and local animal protection groups, following a two-year undercover investigation by ADI which revealed widespread suffering of circus animals across South America. The shocking exposé led to calls for action and nationwide bans followed in Bolivia, Colombia, Peru, Ecuador and El Salvador.
Operation Spirit of Freedom was launched in August 2014 with ADI providing complete logistical support to the Peruvian authorities and removing wild animals from circuses all over Peru. 21 lions are in ADI’s care at their temporary Operation Spirit of Freedom rescue center near Lima. ADI has also begun assisting the Colombian authorities with implementation of its wild animal circus ban and is caring for nine lions who will join the Peruvian lions on the flight to the US.
Legendary, award-winning TV host Bob Barker donated $500,000 to get the rescue mission underway and establish the temporary holding center in Peru.
ADI estimates that construction of all the habitats for the indigenous wildlife, their care whilst they are constructed, and the cost to relocate the animals, will require $60-80,000 – and possibly more because of the diversity of species.
Approximately $200,000 is needed for the relocation of the lions from Peru and Colombia.
National restrictions on performing animals in travelling circuses, either wild, all animals, or in a handful of cases specific species have been enacted in 30 countries – Austria, Belgium, Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Colombia, Costa Rica, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Ecuador, El Salvador, Estonia, Finland, Greece, Hungary, India, Israel, Malta, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Poland, Portugal, Singapore, Slovenia, Sweden, Taiwan, The Netherlands. Similar laws are under discussion in the UK, USA, Brazil and Chile.
Animal Defenders International
With offices in London, Los Angeles and Bogota, ADI campaigns across the globe on animals in entertainment, providing technical advice to governments, securing progressive animal protection legislation, drafting regulations and rescuing animals in distress. ADI has a worldwide reputation for providing video and photographic evidence exposing the behind-the-scenes suffering in industry and supporting this evidence with scientific research on captive wildlife and transport. ADI rescues animals all over the world, educates the public on animals and environmental issues.