Animal Defenders International (ADI) President Jan Creameristo be honored at TheWIFTS International Visionary Awards 2017 in recognition of ADI’s life-saving work for animals under her leadership. At an exclusive event in Los Angeles on December 10th, Jan will be presented withTheOtiliaAnimal Advocacy award inaugurated by TippiHedren in 2014.
Jan Creamer, ADI President said “It is an honor to be chosen for this special award. As a species, we are having a devastating effect on the lives of animals and our shared environment, they need our help. Humanity can be a force for good, protecting our planet and the other species who call it home.”
Celebrating its 10th year, The Women’s International Film & Television Showcase and TheWIFTS Foundation is dedicated to increasing awareness of ‘singular women as individuals’.TheWIFTS Foundation selected Angela Merkel as TheWIFTS Woman of The Decade (Society) & Gal GadotWoman of The Decade (Film). Often unrecognized for their passion and integrity in their chosen field,fellow honorees include actressElaine Partnow; Cassini Project Lead Scientist LindaJ Spilker;documentary filmmakers Gina Abatemarco and Taira Akbar; Mayes C. RubeoCostume Designer for Thor: Ragnarok, currently in cinemas worldwide.
A short film showcasing ADI’s work for animals led by Janwill be screened at the awards ceremony,and feature the organization’s latest rescue mission, the epic Operation Spirit of Freedom inwhich more than 100 animals from circuses and the illegal wildlife trade were saved.AsADI assisted the government of Peru with enforcement of a ban on wild animal acts, over 30 lions were flown home to Africa and more than 50 indigenous wild animals, including six different species of monkey and bears, homed in ADI sanctuary facilities in the Amazon.
Jan co-founded ADI in 1990 with her husband and Vice President Tim Philips, and leadsfrom the front, going toe to toe with circus owners refusing to hand over animals; writing reports;filming in animal laboratories, factory farms, animal dealers, slaughterhouses and circuses; spearheading prosecutions, or addressing national legislators and governments.
ADI’s highly committed team gathers evidence on industries such as circuses, performing animal trainers, animal laboratories and fur farms. Sustained awareness campaigns have been the catalyst for legislation protecting animals, including ending circus acts in over 40 countries, animal cruelty convictions, the EU ban on use of wild caught primates or their offspring in experiments,bans on cosmetics tests on animals in the UK and Europe and restrictions in over 180 countries on cross-border movements of endangered species in traveling exhibitions.
A major element of this work is the production of short and feature documentaries, television work and online productions. Film and television has a major impact on public understanding of animal and environmental issues and ADI has ensured that the animals are represented in film, television and online productions. The ADI’s large-scale rescue work is showcased in the multi award-winning feature documentary, Lion Ark, produced by Jan Creamer, directed by Tim Phillips. The film tells the story of the rescue of 25 lions from Bolivian circuses, in a joint ADI-Bolivian Government law enforcement operation.
Jan is one of 100 visionaries nominated by the Albert Einstein Foundation to mark 100 years of Einstein’s theory of relativity. The “world’s greatest minds” are presenting their visions of the future in the world’s first 3D-printed bookGenius. The Genius: 100 Visions of the Future, include director Sir Ridley Scott, former Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres, Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, Barbara Streisand, former commander of the international space station Colonel Chris Hadfield, author Salman Rushdie, Nobel laureates, billionaire entrepreneurs and spiritual leaders. The global project honors the life and legacy of Albert Einstein, recognizes living visionaries, and seeks to “inspire the next generation of brilliant minds on the planet.”
Jan and Tim are also recipients of The Drury University Forum on Animal Rights ‘Bob Barker Award for Extraordinary Achievement for Animal Rights’, Legendary TV presenter and philanthropist, Bob Barker, a funder of ADI’s work, said,"I am proud to be on ADI's list of donors! In my opinion Animal Defenders International is one of the world's most productive animal protection organizations."
To support Animal Defenders International’s life-saving workwww.ad-international.org/donate
Animal Defenders International (ADI):Los Angeles – London – Bogota
Ending the suffering of animals in captivity and protecting wild animals and their environments
Active worldwide to end the suffering of animals: animals in entertainment – film, television, advertising, circuses and sport or leisure; animals used for food or fur; protection of wildlife and the environment; trade in animals zoos, pets, entertainment and laboratories. Funding and promotion of advanced scientific methods to replace the use of animals in research. ADI investigates, produces evidence and reports on the scientific, legal and economic issues for each case study, recommending solutions. Education and awareness to public, media and officials. Where ADI’s evidence has been a catalyst for change, we collaborate with governments to conduct large-scale seizures of wild animals in captivity and relocate them to forever homes – back to their natural habitat wherever possible.
ADI government-backed rescues:
Operation Spirit of Freedom – Over 100 wild animals, seized from illegal circuses andwildlife trade, rehomed to natural habitats.
In 2016, part of this operation included an airlift of 33 ex-circus lions rescued from circuses in Peru and Colombia, home to Africa.
In 2015, ADI relocated over 40 monkeys of six different species and other animals to their natural habitats in Peru as well as spectacled bear, 25-year-old Cholita, driven three days across the Andes, to her new home at the foot of her natural cloud forest range; a specially built oxygen tent was built to help the elderly bear at high altitudes.
Operation Lion Ark in Bolivia in 2011; ADI assisted officials with the seizure of 25 African lions and relocated them to a sanctuary in the US, this story is told in the feature documentary, Lion Ark (www.lionarkthemovie.com)
Victory! Exotic cats dropped from Dirk Arthur show in Las Vegas
Following a 3-week campaign by Animal Defenders International (ADI), the Westgate Las Vegas Resort and Cinema has announced Dirk Arthur’s “Wild Magic” show will return minus its signature exotic cats.
The Las Vegas Review Journal reported: “Turns out that Arthur is eschewing his exotic cats in his return the stage at the Westgate Cabaret. Arthur had initially announced he would use a bobcat and a snow leopard in the production, which returns at 6 p.m. Nov. 15. Instead, the hotel issued a statement Wednesday that Arthur was ditching the cats and working sleight-of-hand and illusions…” Westgate cites “space limitations in the Cabaret” in its statement as the reason for the change of plan. https://www.reviewjournal.com/entertainment/entertainment-columns/kats/jewel-helps-las-vegas-pick-up-the-pieces/
Christina Scaringe, ADI General Counsel said: “'ADI is delighted that Westgate dropped Arthur’s cruel exotic cat act; we hope it will adopt a permanent ‘no wild animal acts’ policy. Public attitudes are changing, and as people become aware of the inherent suffering, they turn away from exotic animal acts. It’s time for Dirk Arthur to do the same, and retire his animals to sanctuary.”
This is the second time Westgate dropped Arthur’s exotic cat act; ADI hopes that Westgate will join those who have moved with the times to replace cruel and outdated animal acts with successful human performances.
Footage previously obtained by ADI shows that Arthur’s exotic cats suffer extreme confinement and environmental deprivation, enduring hours in tiny travel cages and prop boxes, and living in cement and chain link cells, all for only a few minutes onstage.
ADI’s undercover video compiles findings from our investigations in 2011, 2014, and 2015, of the Dirk Arthur compound (where animals are housed) and performances, including those at Harrah’s Hotel Casino in Reno Nevada, and at O’Shea’s, Riviera, and Westgate Casinos in Las Vegas. For the few minutes Arthur’s exotic cats appear onstage, they must endure approximately six hours a day in tiny travel cages and prop boxes barely larger than their bodies. The animals spend almost a third of their day confined in travel cages that are just 3 feet wide by 3 feet high by 5 feet long – about the length of a bathtub. When not performing, the animals are warehoused in a series of small cement and chain link cells in Arthur’s backyard, in a residential area of Las Vegas.
Dirk Arthur has been cited numerous times by the USDA for violations of the Animal Welfare Act (AWA), including citations for hazards related to a snow leopard’s caging condition and a bobcat entangled in his own neck chain and fencing. Arthur was cited in 2013 for failure to provide adequate veterinary care, after he declawed two juvenile tigers and a juvenile lion. Declawing is a painful, often debilitating, procedure that amputates part of each of the cat’s toes and commonly leads to chronic health problems; declawing is prohibited by the USDA and, since 2006, it’s not permitted under the AWA. The AVMA condemns declawing exotic and wild cats for nonmedical reasons. Arthur has also previously been cited for having enclosures that are too small to allow cats “normal postural and social adjustments and adequate freedom of movement,” including the ability to exercise. Previously, Caesars Entertainment responded to public outcry and these citations with its pledge to not again host Arthur’s show at the Harrah’s Casino. (ADI video reveals Arthur’s cats remained in extreme confinement after that time.)
Siegfried and Roy - the most famous Las Vegas exotic cat act – abruptly ended their run at the Mirage in September 2003, after Roy was attacked by a tiger. The MGM Grand Hotel and Casino removed their lion display in 2012, and veteran Las Vegas magician Rick Thomas retired his exotic cats the same year. Exotic cat acts along the Las Vegas Strip have been replaced by successful animal-free human performance shows, such as Cirque du Soleil.
Animal Defenders International (ADI) has renewed its call for Congress to support the Traveling Exotic Animal and Public Safety Protection Act (HR1759) after a tiger owned by former Ringling Bros big cat trainer, Alexander Lacey, was shot dead by police in Georgia yesterday.
Tim Phillips, President of Animal Defenders International, said: “When things go wrong in wild animal circuses they go seriously wrong. Aside from the public danger, this tiger has paid with her life for a human error, all in the name of frivolous entertainment. This tragic incident adds to the already overwhelming evidence showing traveling wild animal acts are not safe for animals or people and we urge Congress to act.”
HR 1759 was introduced March 28 by Representatives Ryan Costello (R-PA) and Raúl Grijalva (D-AZ), and aims to amend the Animal Welfare Act to restrict the use of exotic and wild animals in traveling circuses and traveling performances. The bill has 32 co-sponsors.
The tiger, called Suzy, escaped while being transported from Florida to Tennessee, during a stop in Georgia. Spotted on the interstate, the tiger entered a residential area and, as stated by the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, after she “became aggressive toward pets in the area, it was deemed necessary for public safety to put it down”. Transporter Feld Entertainment, the parent company of Ringling Bros Circus, has stated they didn’t know Suzy was missing until they had reached their destination, raising concerns as to whether the big cats were properly checked.
Alexander Lacey plans to take his tigers, lions and a leopard to a German circus, following the closure of Ringling Bros earlier this year. An application to export the big cats from the US was opposed by ADI and other animal groups, as well as members of the public. The permit was approved August 14 by the US Fish and Wildlife Service but according to staff, still needs to be signed off after a correction is made.
Over the years, ADI has caught on film a catalogue of abuse at circuses owned by the big cat trainer’s father Martin Lacey Snr:
- Tigers hit with whips and sticks by Martin Lacey Sr and his daughter Natasha Lacey.
- Elephants abused, punched, and hit with brooms and sticks by their presenter and groom. Martin Lacey Sr told Members of the British Parliament that the elephants were not chained, yet ADI video evidence showed that they were chained every day, for up to 11 hours.
- Lions and tigers confined in transporters 27 hours for a journey time of 3 hours 25 minutes.
- Government circus inspection reports revealed big cats lived the whole year in cages on the back of transporters; tigers gave birth while on tour; and an elephant that was “chronically and obviously lame,” with a chronic abscess that “should be seen by a veterinary surgeon … as soon as possible.”
- Alexander Lacey’s “beastman” lost his temper and lashed out at and hit tigers in a beast wagon; he also hit a lioness in the mouth with a metal bar.
- Alexander Lacey jabbed a big cat hard with a stick, and concealed a seriously injured lioness from inspectors.
Given the constant travel and their temporary nature, circuses cannot provide animals with adequate facilities to keep them physically or psychologically healthy. Welfare is always compromised.
Expert analysis of scientific evidence commissioned by the Welsh Government and undertaken by Professor Steven Harris at Bristol University last year concluded, “The available scientific evidence indicates that captive wild animals in circuses and other travelling animal shows do not achieve their optimal welfare requirements.” The report stated that “Life for wild animals in travelling circuses…does not appear to constitute either a ‘good life’ or a ‘life worth living’”.
The Federation of Veterinarians of Europe (FVE) has concluded “there is by no means the possibility that their [wild mammals in travelling circuses’] physiological, mental and social requirements can adequately be met.”
The British Veterinary Association concludes that “The welfare needs of non-domesticated, wild animals cannot be met within a travelling circus - in terms of housing or being able to express normal behaviour.”
Nearly 40 countries around the world and more than 70 local US jurisdictions have introduced prohibitions on animals in circuses to date. Several states including New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts and Pennsylvania have introduced and are considering similar legislation. Illinois recently passed a ban on elephant performances and the New York Governor has a similar bill on his desk awaiting signature.
Please visitwww.ad-international.org for more information.
Ricky Gervais awarded for animal protection advocacy
Animal Defenders International (ADI)has presented multi-talented comedian Ricky Gervaiswith the prestigious Lord Houghton Award for his high-profile advocacy on animal protection issues, creating awareness in a unique wayto worldwide audiences.
ADI President Jan Creamer said: “Ricky Gervais is an outstanding and outspoken campaigner for animals who has raised animal protection issues with new and growing audiences. This award is in recognition of the longstanding and passionate role Ricky plays in giving animals a loud and powerful voice.”
On receiving the award, Ricky Gervais said: “I am honoured to receive the Lord Houghton Award for a cause so close to my heart. The suffering of animals absolutely sickens me and I will continue to speak out and support the sterling work of organisations like Animal Defenders International.”
Ricky is currently on tour with his ‘Humanity’ show, and has been a supporter of ADI for many years, being one of the first to champion their ‘Stop Circus Suffering’ campaign. While at XFM in the late 1990s, Ricky spoke out against the horrific abuse of elephants, a baby chimpanzee and others documented by ADI at animal trainer Mary Chipperfield Promotions, which resulted in cruelty convictions for the owners and their elephant keeper. Ricky has continued to be an outspoken advocate for the campaign, urging governments in both the UK and US to introduce legislation to prohibit travelling wild animal acts.
The shocking violence inflicted on Anne the elephant at Bobby Roberts Super Circus in 2011 and exposed by ADI “graphically displays why the government should ban wild animals in circuses” Ricky said, continuing “I am appalled that wild animals are still kept in circuses and fully support the call for a ban. It is high time that government got on and implemented one.”ADI’s evidence led to agovernment commitment to ban and a cruelty conviction for Anne’s owner – yet five years later, the government’s bill has still not been presented to Parliament.
The comedian, writer and producer, who has over 12 million twitter followers is an outspoken advocate on several animal issues including trophy hunting, blood sports and animal experiments.
Last year, supporting proposals to uplist the African lion to Appendix I (greatest protection) at the CITES conference in Johannesburg,Ricky said "The survival of the African lion hangs in the balance. We must stop blood-thirsty hunters from decimating our wildlife for a barbaric adrenaline rush or trophy piece to show off to their mates.” Sadly, fierce opposition from lion bone/body part traders fought off lion protection this time, but the campaign continues.
The Lord Houghton Award was initiated in 1980 as a lasting recognition of the significant contribution made by Lord Houghton to the animal welfare movement. During his long parliamentary career, he was a passionate animal welfare advocate, actively campaigning for changes in legislation to bring about improvements in animal welfare, even into his nineties.
Each year one of the four participating organizations – Animal Defenders International, OneKind, Cruelty Free International and League Against Cruel Sports – selects the recipient of the award.
In 2012 ADI presented the award to legendary multi-Emmy award winning TV host Bob Barker – an ardent public advocate for animals who, among other achievements, had ended each episode of his iconic show ‘The Price is Right’ with a plea to his audience to spay and neuter their pets.
This presentation of the 2016 Lord Houghton Award to Ricky was delayed for the completion of a record-breaking 18-month rescue mission in South America. ADI rescued over 100 wild animals from circuses and the illegal wildlife trade in a mission to assist the governments of Peru and Colombia with enforcement of their new laws ending the use of wild animals in circuses. Native wildlife such as bears, monkeys, birds and others were rehomed in Amazon sanctuaries, a tiger to a sanctuary in Florida and 33 Africa lions were rehomed to their native Africa.
Animal Defenders International (ADI) applauds Massachusetts State Senator Bruce Tarr’s introduction of SD.2002, to prohibit traveling wild & exotic animal acts. ADI was honored to work with Senator Tarr and local advocates on the bill, reflecting increasing public recognition that these acts are both cruel and dangerous.
The Feld organization recently announced its closure of RinglingBros. circuses, citing decreased ticket sales over the last decade, a change in views from audiences, and admitting that“It isn’t relevant to people in the same way.”
The Federation of Veterinarians of Europenotes"There is little or no educational, conservational, research or economic benefit derived fromthe use of wild mammals in travelling circuses that might justify their use. In addition to thewelfare considerations, the use of wild mammals in circuses canrepresent serious animalhealth and public health and safety risks.”
ADI President Jan Creamer said “ADI worked closely with Senator Tarr on this effort and we know how determined he is to protect wild animals and the public from these cruel and dangerous acts. ADI’s evidence of the suffering and abuse of wild animals in circuses shows that these shows simply cannot meet the needs of wild animals in lightweight, small and mobile accommodation.
A comprehensive 2016 scientific review considered the latest science and consulted 658 experts and organizations around the world (including industry representatives), to ultimately conclude that for wild animals, this is not “a life worth living.”
Once a ban is in place, ADI has offered to assist with the relocation of circus animals should the need arise. Despite assurances from the circus industry, the physical and psychological health of animals in circuses is inevitably compromised. Animals in circuses are routinely subjected to brutal training methods and violence.
ADI has led the campaign to expose the suffering and educate the public around the world, providing video evidence, prosecutions, and expert reviews. 34 nations have reviewed the evidence and taken action to end traveling circus performances. Across 27states in the US, 68jurisdictions have already decided to either ban or restrict the use of wild animals in traveling shows, due to concerns about public safety and animal welfare.
ADI is also supporting RepresentativesRyan Costello (R-PA) andRaul Grijalva(D-AZ), who launched Traveling Exotic Animaland Public Safety ProtectionAct (TEAPSPA)in Congress last November. The congressmen have concluded that ending wild animal use is the only practical approach to deal withpublic safety issues and inspection and oversightproblems repeatedly cited by the Office of the Inspector General (OIG).
Following bans on the use of animals in circuses in Peru and Colombia,ADIworked with both governments to remove over 100 animals from circuses and the illegal wildlife trade last year including lions, bears, monkeys, a tiger and others. ADI rehabilitated the animals and rehomed them to their natural habitats. These rescues were popular with the public and show what can be achieved with legislators and animal protection organizations cooperating.
Join the global campaign to Stop Circus Suffering: www.stopcircussuffering.com
Animal Defenders International (ADI) has welcomed the announcement by Ringling Bros. Barnum & Bailey Circus to close its animal shows from May, citing declines in ticket sales after earlier announcing a ‘mood shift’ among their consumers .After decades of exposing the cramped, barren conditions with long periods of time tied up and chained with no freedom of movement and a brutal training culture, ADI believes that public opinion has ended the suffering.
Modern audiences now have many entertainment options and do not want to see shows where animals are made to suffer for a few minutes of entertainment.
Jan Creamer, ADI President, said:“After decades of exposing the suffering of animals in circuses behind the scenes, we are pleased to hear that Ringlings has finally bowed to public opinion – it was a mistake for them not to see the trend away from animal shows to human-only performances over a decade ago. Circuses can survive without the animal performances.”
Studies of the use of wild animals in traveling circuses show that in the circumstances of a traveling show, circuses cannot meet the needs of wild animals. Animals are confined in small spaces, deprived of physical and social needs, spending excessive amounts of time tied or chained up, shut in transporters and unable to move around.The abnormal, stereotypical behaviors seen in circus animals, rocking, swaying and pacing, indicate that they are under stress and not coping with their environment. ADI’s video evidence has shown how these animals are forced to perform tricks through physical violence, fear and intimidation.
ADI has led the campaign to expose the suffering and educate the public around the world, providing video evidence, prosecutions and expert reviews. 34 nations have reviewed the evidence and taken action to end traveling circus performances. Across 27states in the US, 66jurisdictions have already decided to either ban or restrict the use of wild animals in traveling shows, due to concerns about public safety and animal welfare.
ADI is supporting RepresentativesRyan Costello (R-PA) andRaul Grijalva(D-AZ), who launched Traveling Exotic Animaland Public Safety ProtectionAct (TEAPSPA) in Congress last November. The congressmen have concluded that ending wild animal use is the only practical approach to deal withpublic safety issues and inspection and oversightproblems repeatedly cited by the Office of the Inspector General (OIG).
Animal Defenders International founders Jan Creamer and Tim Phillips for ‘Extraordinary Achievement for Animal Rights’
DECEMBER 19, 2016 - ‘The Drury University Forum on Animal Rights Bob Barker Award for Extraordinary Achievement for Animal Rights’ was presented to ADI byPatricia McEachern, Dorothy Jo Barker Endowed Professor of Animal Rights, Director of the Drury University Forum on Animal Rights, and a Fellow with the Oxford Centre for Animal Ethics.
Legendary TV host and philanthropist Bob Barker is an alumnus of Drury University, funds the Animal Rights Forum and has given substantial support to the work of ADI.
Professor McEachern cited the ADI founders’ remarkable work exposing animal suffering, running public awareness campaigns, securing animal protection legislation around the world, and leading massive rescue and law enforcement operations. It is only the third time the award has been made.
The presentation followed a screening of the multi award-winning documentary Lion Ark – the story of the dramatic rescue of 25 lions from circuses by a team led by Creamer and Phillips as they closed down every animal circus in Bolivia. Bob Barker funded the rescue, the first of its kind, and appears in the feature film during the rescue and addressing Congress.
The pair recently completed a similar mission in Peru enforcing a ban ADI had secured there. Over 100 animals have been rescued as the cruel industry was closed down and over 30 lions were airlifted by ADI to a sanctuary in South Africa where ADI is currently constructing 12 habitats for them to live in.
Last month Creamer and Phillips were in Congress for a screening of Lion Ark at which the introduction of the Traveling Exotic Animal Public Safety & Protection Act (HR6342) was announced. The Bill has been introduced by Reps Ryan Costello (R-PA-06) and Raul Grijalva (D-AZ) and if passed would end the use of wild animals in traveling circuses.
ADI undercover video evidence of shocking circus abuse in the UK, Europe, USA and South America has been the key to shifting public attitudes to animals in circuses and leading to over 30 countries banning animals in circuses. The evidence has led to convictions for cruelty of leading figures in the circus industry. ADI has also played a lead role in securing bans on cosmetics testing on animals and the use of wild caught monkeys and apes in experiments in Europe.
Bob Barker said: “I am proud to be on ADI’s list of donors! In my opinion Animal Defenders International is one of the world’s most productive animal protection organizations.”
Patricia McEachern Endowed Professor of Animal Rights at Drury University said"I cannot begin to express how thrilled and proud I was to present Jan Creamer and Tim Phillips with the third Drury University Forum on Animal Rights Bob Barker Award for Extraordinary Achievements for Animals. Through tireless dedication and hard work, they built ADI into one of the most high profile and successful animal protection groups in the world."
Jan Creamer ADI President: “We are honoured to accept this award. We have great respect for the work of the Drury University Forum on Animal Rights and it is extra special because Drury Alumnus Bob Barker has been so important to ADI’s work.”
Under the auspices of the Forum, Professor McEachern created and directsDrury University’s innovative Animal Studies minor, one of the first in the United States at its founding, and the team-taught Animal Ethics course, which includes seven professors from various fields, as well as guest speakers.
Animal Defenders International (ADI) is active worldwide to end the suffering of captive animals in commercial use: animals used in entertainment – film, television, advertising, circuses and sport or leisure such as hunting or for products such as fur. ADI investigates, produces evidence, and reports on the scientific, legal, and economic issues for each case study, recommending solutions and distributing Information to the media, public, and officials. Where ADI’s evidence has been a catalyst for change, we collaborate with governments to conduct large-scale seizures or rescues of wild animals in captivity and relocate them to forever homes – back to their natural habitat wherever possible.www.ad-international.org
Lion Ark: http://www.lionarkthemovie.com
September 8, 2016- South Africa- A lion family has been reunited in the African bush after they were torn apart by a traveling circus in South America. Leo, his mate Muneca, and daughters Africa and Kiara are back together. Animal Defenders International (ADI) is appealing for funds to complete an enclosure in the African bush where they can live out their lives together. https://lionsbacktoafrica.org/donate-for-leo/
The wonderful news comes after tens of thousands of people watched a viral video of Leo, groggy with anesthetic following dental surgery, battling to reach his daughter Africa as she willed him on and reached out for her father. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dm4NI_juV_0
Leo was rescued by ADI on the first day of a huge operation to enforce Peru’s ban on wild animals in circuses. But the circus had blocked the rescue of Muneca, Kiara and Africa, and then disappeared with them before a court could decide on their fate. ADI never gave up on them and eight months later tracked down the circus over 600 miles away, in a remote region near the border of Ecuador, and Leo’s family was saved.
During the biggest operation of its kind ever undertaken, ADI rescued over 100 animals (lions, bears, tigers, monkeys and others) as they closed down Peru’s wild animal circus industry. In May, ADI flew the 33 lions rescued during the mission to South Africa to start a new life at Emoya Big Cat Sanctuary.
Since then, the lions have been steadily rehabilitated, introduced to each other and are undergoing an intense veterinary program to repair the damage inflicted on them in the circus. The lionesses are also being neutered to prevent breeding. These battered animals cannot return to the wild, but it is the aim of ADI and Emoya to give them a life as close to what nature intended as possible.
Leo, one of the oldest lions rescued had all of his canine teeth smashed in the circus and underwent three hours of dental surgery in August to repair the damage. Leading veterinary dentist Gerhard Steenkamp, who repaired the damage, extracting teeth and doing root canals, noted “His mouth has taken a hell of beating.” Muneca also had surgery for two smashed teeth.
The video of Leo recovering has moved tens of thousands of people online and shows the importance of family bonds in this social species. As he began to recover from anesthesia and slowly stumbled and dragged himself towards his anxious daughter Africa, who appeared to be urging him on from behind a fence, even reaching her paw out to him. Once Leo reaches her, they nuzzle and he settles beside her for a few minutes, but soon recovers and is back on his feet as if nothing had happened. At the time the lions were in “bonding” camps, preparing them for reintroduction, with mesh between them allowing contact but ensuring they could not fight. Now the family is back together.
Jan Creamer ADI President: “It is wonderful that against all of the odds, these lions have been saved from circus suffering and the family reunited back where nature intended in Africa. Now we are asking for people to help, and donate for a huge natural bush enclosure for this family, that will be their happy-ever-after.”
The final step for Leo and his family will be a huge natural bush enclosure with self-filling water holes and secure solar powered electric fences. ADI and Emoya need to complete these for all the lions rescued costing up to $150,000.
Please help Animal Defenders International raise $16,500 for Leo’s family enclosure, where the lions will be cared for life by ADI at Emoya. Any extra funds raised will go towards the enclosures for the other rescued lions and care for Leo and his family. https://lionsbacktoafrica.org/donate-for-leo/
Operation Spirit of Freedom
Leo was rescued as part of Animal Defenders International’s Operation Spirit of Freedom, a mission with Peru's authorities to enforce the ban on wild animals in circuses. In the biggest operation of its kind over 100 animals were rescued from circuses and the illegal wildlife trade. ADI previously enforced a ban on animals in circuses in Bolivia.
Animal Defenders International:
With offices in Los Angeles, London 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.
33 lions, rescued from appalling conditions in circuses in Peru and Colombia by Animal Defenders International (ADI), surely cannot believe their eyes this morning as they roared in their first sunrise in the African bush.
A record-breaking cargo flight with all 33 lions on board jetted into Johannesburg on Saturday night. The lions, saved during an ADI mission to help enforce bans on wild animal acts in Peru and Colombia, are now settling into their forever home at Emoya Big Cat Sanctuary, situated on a private estate in Limpopo Province. Many of the lions have been declawed and have broken teeth so would not survive in the wild.
During an 18-month operation in Peru, ADI raided every circus and rescued every animal. Known as Operation Spirit of Freedom, and also providing support on wildlife trafficking enforcement, 100 animals were saved – most, including bears and six different species of monkeys, were rehomed in Peru. Nine circus lions were also handed to ADI in Colombia where a ban has also been passed.
A massive ADI relocation effort began on Thursday morning in Bucaramanga in Colombia, with nine lions loaded into travel crates and travelling to Bogota by truck. The same night 24 rescued lions were loaded into travel crates in Peru and taken to Lima Airport. A huge MD11 aircraft chartered from ethical cargo company Priority Worldwide Services then flew the nine lions from Bogota to Lima where they were joined on board for a trans-Atlantic flight to Johannesburg – not without its problems due to a long delay in Brazil due to a computer problem. The lions were monitored throughout the flight by ADI President Jan Creamer, ADI Vice President Tim Phillips, and ADI veterinarian Eva Chomba. The lions arrived in South Africa on Saturday evening, bellowing out a huge roar that echoed through the aircraft as they touched down. Trucks donated by Ibubesi Transport Logistics then carried the lions to Emoya Big Cat Sanctuary in Limpopo, arriving Sunday morning.
The dawn of a new day marks their first full day of freedom under the African sun and new beginnings for the lions in the natural bush environment they now call home. Returning to the homeland their ancestors had been torn from, the lions can feel the African soil beneath their feet and the sun on their backs, protected within an environment they can be given the care they need. One of the nine lions from Colombia, Iron, was the first of the 33 to step into his forever home, clearly relishing being able to rub up against a tree, another first for the big cats who had formerly lived in cages on the back of circus trucks.
“Before ADI rescued them, these animals had never felt the grass beneath their feet or the sun over their heads, yesterday they were in the African bush. This has been a really important mission because it has eliminated circus suffering in Peru, saving future generations of animals. Getting the animals home has been exhausting and exhilarating.”
Savannah Heuser, founder of Emoya Big Cat Sanctuary: “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. We love being part of the final rescue. Knowing that ADI has changed laws means that wild animals will never again be exploited like this again in Peru and that process has begun in Colombia.”
To familiarize the big cats with their new home, the lions will initially live in “bonding camps” where families will also be reintroduced. Then, over the coming months, the lions will be released into huge habitats with platforms and watering holes, for which donations are being sought as well as the lions’ ongoing care. www.lionsbacktoafrica.org
ADI has launched an appeal to fund phase two of the lion habitats and to care for the lions for life, which for some lions could be as long as 20 years. http://bit.ly/1TjatPq
The lion flight marked the epic conclusion of the ADI rescue mission in Peru, which TV legend Bob Barker’s DJ & T Foundation helped kickstart with a major donation that enabled ADI to start raiding circuses and removing animals. The cost of the lions’ first class ticket to freedom was funded through an online campaign by ADI and GreaterGood.com, with individuals including Oakland Zoo, Dr. Lo Sprague & Rev. Dr. Gwynne Guibord, Elise Zoli, and the Facebook group ‘Lion Lovers’ stepping in to fund the $10,00 airfare of individual animals.
Businesses have also donated services and goods or discounted services to help get the lions home including Priority Worldwide Services who chartered the MD11F cargo aircraft, Spherical Logistics and Swissport International at Johannesburg Airport, and fencing manufacturer Bonnox, Lood Swanevelder Fencing, Faan Venter, Ibubesi Transport Logistics, and Chill Box (who donated a freezer room at the lions new home).
ADI and Emoya would like to thank the Peruvian Government departments, SERFOR and ATFFS, and Police and in Colombia CDMB, a regional wildlife authority in Bucaramanga for enabling this incredible operation to happen.
About Animal Defenders International
Operating from Los Angeles, London 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 behind-the-scenes suffering in the industry and supporting this evidence with scientific research on captive wildlife and transport. ADI rescues animals and educates the public. www.ad-international.org
About Emoya Big Cat Sanctuary
The Emoya Big Cat Sanctuary is set in 5,000 hectares of pristine African bush on a private estate in Limpopo Province. Opened by Savannah Heuser in 2012 when she was just 16 years old, the sanctuary has a no breeding policy and is not open to the public. https://www.facebook.com/EmoyaBigCats
Worldwide end to use of wild animals in traveling shows: The evidence that the suffering caused to wild animals by the constant travel, severe restrictions on movement and unnatural lifestyle has prompted authorities and governments around the world to end their use.
National restrictions on performing animals in travelling circuses, either wild or all animals, have been enacted in 32 countries – Austria, Belgium, Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Colombia, Costa Rica, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Ecuador, El Salvador, Estonia, Finland, Greece, Hungary, India, Iran, Israel, Malta, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Poland, Portugal, Singapore, Slovenia, Sweden, and Taiwan, The Netherlands. Similar laws are under discussion in the UK, USA, Brazil and Chile.
Animal Defenders International launches its “Watch List” to track trainers who have been exposed abusing animals
January 20, 2016, LOS ANGELES, CA –In a dramatic move, Circus Bouglione in France has dropped elephant trainer Lars Holscher following protests and negative publicity afterAnimal Defenders International’s (ADI) undercover videorevealedHolscher’sabuse of elephants during his Great Britaintour a few years ago.
ADI’s hidden cameras filmed Holscher’s act in 2009, when he was touring in the Great British Circus with three elephants, Vana Mana, Sonja and Delhi. ADI exposed a staggering level of casual violence, including elephants hit in the face with a metal elephant hook, broom, brush, and pitchfork, and a worker cruelly twisting an elephant’s tail. The elephants are seen and heard on screen afraid, retreating and crying out. Holscher himself was seen striking the elephants with a metal bar, using a small concealed hook to control the elephants during performances, forcing a lame elephant to continue performing and overseeing the chaining of the elephants for 11 hours a day – while the circus claimed they were never chained.https://youtu.be/h4L6EahWjoQ
Holscher fled the UK, but has since appeared in at least seven European countries and even supplied an elephant to one of this year’s Academy Award nominees.
Jan Creamer, ADI President: “By their nature, circus acts are able to change location easily and often change the names of acts and the animals they use. We have been shocked with the lack of background scrutiny that circuses and filmmakers employ when hiring animal acts. With ADI’s Watch List we workto ensure that trainers and suppliers can’t escapetheirabusive history.”
While Holscher was touring with Cirkus Scott in Sweden, Vana Mana (then known as Ghandi) joined the set of the Felix Herngren comedy‘The 100-year-old man who climbed out the window and disappeared.’ Co-produced by Buena Vista International Sweden, a subsidiary of The Walt Disney Company Nordic, the film has been nominated for a 2016 Academy Award for Makeup and Hairstyling.
When Cirkus Scott became aware of the abuse Vana Mana and her companion Sonja (known as Baby) endured, they announced they would stop using wild animals altogether, after 76 years of doing so.
This ADI footage was already in the public domain along with a damning report by experts, including Professor Donald Broom, MA, PhD, ScD Emeritus Professor of Animal Welfare Science, Cambridge University; Samantha Lindley, BVSc. MRCVS, Edinburgh University, veterinary expert, behaviorist; Dr Joyce Poole, expert in elephant welfare and communication; and Simon JR Adams, BSc, BVMS, MRCVS, zoo & wildlife veterinarian. Still, Holscher continued to use the elephants.https://www.ad-international.org/media/GBC_Elephant_Report_F_2010.pdf
At the time, Dr Mel Richardson, a renowned wild animal vet with 40 years experience with captive elephants, noted: “Sonja, Vana Mana, and Delhi are being caused unnecessary suffering…. the day-to-day existence of these elephants is a living hell…..LH Hölscher is not using the bull hook [ankus] as a guide to communicate his desire for the elephant to move up or move back or stand still (steady). He is using it as a club to beat the animal. He is inserting the hook into the ear and on the ear flaps to torment the poor animal with maximum effect for the least effort on his part.”
In the United States, Have Trunk Will Travel became America’s most notorious elephant act supplier after an ADI undercover investigation in Californiarevealed staff beating, hooking, and electric shocking the elephants to force them to perform tricks. The company had supplied Hollywood films including Water for Elephants, Zookeeper, and Operation Dumbo Drop.bit.ly/1PhBKFU
Most facilities in California have severed links with the company, including fairs and zoos that employed Have Trunk Will Travel to give rides, but last year the company trekked elephants across the country to Southwick’s Zoo inMassachusetts.
Jan Creamer said,“These trainers use such abusive techniques because the elephants never forget, trainers then rely on seemingly harmless gestures in public to control animals who know all too well what will happen if they disobey. This is a national problem because these acts move from state to state with ease. ADI’s Watch List will provide a valuable resource for people wishing to challenge the claims of discredited trainers but we really need the Traveling Exotic Animal Protection Act to be reintroduced to Congress to eliminate this suffering.”