As part of two rescue operations, four Bengal tigers and four lions were saved after spending much of their lives in circuses and cramped living quarters. They will now be housed in South African wildlife sanctuaries.
Two Bengal tigers were once part of a circus, but the traveling circus organizers asked a local farmer in San Luis, Argentina to temporarily look after the animals.
The circus, however, never returned. According to Plant Based News, the tigers later had two pups and spent nearly four years together in a metal train compartment.
“For a long time, the railway compartment was filthy with waste and leftover meat and bones, but thankfully that is no longer the case,” said Dr. Amir Khalil, a veterinarian of Four Paws International, which led the rescue mission.
According to EuroNews, Khalil continued, “These tigers have never felt grass or ground under their claws.” “It’s the first time they’ve seen anything other than metal bars and a roof above them.”
Sandro, Mafalda, Messi, and Gustavo are now residents of the LIONSROCK Big Cat Sanctuary in Bethlehem, South Africa. They’re still in cages, but their new surroundings are considerably more like their natural environments, which the majority of this family has never seen before.
The lions, named Angela, Bellone, Saïda and Louga were rescued in an operation in France by The Born Free Foundation. Since they were cubs, these lions had been part of various circuses until 2018.
After the owner relinquished them, they were held in a rescue center in Lyon, France, until Born Free could safely move them to the Shamwari Private Game Reserve in South Africa.
What a difference Born Free makes!
— Born Free Foundation (@BornFreeFDN) March 9, 2022
These big cats had spent most of their lives in a small trailer or forced to perform in traveling circuses. Now, Catherine Gillson, Born Free manager at Shamwari Private Game Reserve, said the lions have enclosures the size of roughly two rugby fields planted with native vegetation to mimic the lions’ natural habitat.
“We are delighted that Louga, Saida, Angela and Bellone are safely with us at Shamwari,” Gillson said in a statement. “The journey of our Lions of Lockdown has been long, but hopefully with each day spent with us in the peace of our sanctuary, they will continue to grow from strength to strength.
Their re-homing to our Big Cat Sanctuary at Shamwari will allow them to get as close to experiencing the life they were denied for so many years! The sights, sounds and scents of their fellow rescued big cats will heighten their senses immediately as they begin to acclimatise to their new lives. They are now in their forever home in Africa.”
This article by Paige Bennett was first published by EcoWatch on 23 March 2022. Lead Image: Four tigers who lived in a train carriage their whole lives arrived at LIONSROCK Big Cat Sanctuary. Messi, Sandro, Mafalda and Gustavo stepped on grass for the first time. Hristo Vladev / FOUR PAWS / Facebook.
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