It’s hard to imagine having to spend your entire life in a cage, only to be let out to be used as a performer in a circus. Sadly that was the case for five lions who never experienced anything else …until now.
Since then, rescuers from Animal Defenders International (ADI) have taken them to a temporary rescue center that was constructed for them, where they’re starting to experience entirely new lives, along with nine tigers who were also rescued from the same circus.
At the center, they’ve gotten to experience more space and enrichment activities to help them stay healthy and active, and they’ve also gotten to feel grass under their feet for the first time in their lives.
According to ADI, although she was cautious about it, Sasha was the first one to step out onto the grass before bounding across the enclosure with excitement. Despite what they’ve been through, which for some also includes having their teeth and claws damaged, all of their personalities have begun to emerge in their new home.
ADI wrote, “Sasha and Tanya, leading their prides, faced off through the fence before keeping a wary eye on each other. Kimba played with everything, rolling in the hay, picking up all the logs, and swinging from a tire. Nenawas just as playful, wrestling with one of the giant catnip toys and hurling it into the air. Tarzan quietly explored, but only began to really play with a tyre on his second day.”
“This is a new beginning for these animals – never again will they be forced to perform or beaten into submission. Their suffering is over and we hope the public will help us give them a better, richer life,” said President of ADI Jan Creamer.
It will be a few months before they can be moved to their forever home, which will be a newly constructed sanctuary ADI is building in South Africa that will welcome them as its first residents, while the tigers have been offered permanent homes in the U.S. at Big Cat Rescue and Tigers for Tomorrow.
Hopefully they’ll all continue to recover from their pasts and will enjoy the rest of their lives at homes where their needs are the priority, and their story will help raise awareness about how vital these circus bans are for animals like these who are being exploited, and denied everything that they need to thrive.
Around the world, 45 countries have already introduced prohibitions on animals in circuses, but many, including the U.S., continue to lag behind. Fortunately, there’s still hope the states will catch up by passing the Travelling Exotic Animal and Public Safety Protection Act (TEAPSPA), which would end the use of wild and exotic animals in travelling circuses once and for all.
While numerous cities and states have taken action to protect animals, supporters of this bill argue that the issue needs to be addressed on a federal level because the mobile nature of circuses makes it difficult for law enforcement and inspectors to follow up on violations of the Animal Welfare Act. This leaves officials virtually incapable of doing anything meaningful to ensure the well being of animals, to hold abusers accountable or to ensure public safety.
You can show your support for making the U.S. one of the next nations to take a stand like this by signing and sharing the petition asking Congress to pass the Traveling Exotic Animal and Public Safety Protection Act, which would ban the use of wild animals in circuses for good.
This article was first published by Care2.com on 15 Aug 2018.