Join us LIVE, worldwide, for the re-introduction of the Traveling Exotic Animal Protection and Public Safety Act (TEAPSPA) in the U.S. Congress on 17 November!        

Come watch an UPLIFTING and INSPIRING online event hosted by Daytime Emmy Award nominated, Kim Matula (The Bold & The Beautiful, Fighting With My Family) to launch TEAPSPA, to end the use of wild and exotic animals in circuses in the US. 

Kim will be joined by bill’s sponsors in the House, Rep. Raul M. Grijalva, Rep. David Schweikert and in the Senate, by Senator Robert Menendez; Dr. Betsy Coville (USDA-accredited veterinarian, 30+years with exotic animals, MA Veterinary Forensic Sciences) and special guests Chloe East (True Blood, HBO’s Generation, currently filming Steven Spielberg’s The Fabelmans); ADI Ambassador Jorja Fox (West Wing and known to 73 million viewers as Sara Sidle in CSI).

It has been a long road for TEAPSPA – the evidence we have released over two decades includes undercover investigations and scientific, legal and economic evidence supporting the case to end the use of wild and exotic animals in US circuses.

Successes along the way have included four states with bans: New Jersey, Hawaii, California and Colorado, and 100 local jurisdictions have also looked at the evidence and concluded that cruelty for entertainment is not acceptable in modern society.

Meanwhile, approaching 50 countries have ended the use of either all animals, or wild animals, in traveling shows. 

Animal circus acts date back to a time when people were ignorant of the emotions, intelligence and communications of other species. Now, we know better. Studies have confirmed what we already knew – other species experience feelings like frustration, pain, fear, affection, joy and pleasure. No more excuses – when we keep intelligent, sentient, communicative, social beings in small, bare spaces, tied up, living lives full of fear and chronic stress, WE KNOW we are causing injury, pain and suffering. 

We can see the effects on the animals, the repetitive pacing, rocking, swaying and bobbing heads tells us they are going out of their minds because they cannot escape the abusive environment in which they find themselves.

The evidence is in. Traveling shows cannot provide for the physical, behavioral and psychological needs of wild animals. Severe confinement in barren conditions, malnutrition, lack of exercise and restriction of natural behaviors, results in animals prone to health, behavioral, and psychological problems. Welfare is always compromised. 

Circus animals are routinely subjected to violence and brutal training methods; weapons include whips, shovels, golf clubs, iron bars, bullhooks, and electric shock devices; almost anything will suffice. And large, potentially dangerous wild animals present a clear public safety hazard, which is addressed with brutality. Deaths and injuries to animals, trainers and the public are far too common. 

Poor government agency oversight and monitoring to enforce existing regulations is extremely costly and has come under repeated criticism – including from the Inspector General. Nominal licensing fees and minimal monetary penalties do not cover oversight costs – so taxpayers bear the burden. Federal oversight of traveling animal acts is problematic, unmanageable, and costly for American taxpayers. Worse yet, it’s just not working. 

Let’s get the reluctant, unwilling animals out of entertainment – human-only performance shows are popular and creative, providing jobs for eager human entertainers rather than suffering for abused animals.  

If you are not in the US but have friends or family there, ask them to help.

Go to and see what you can do. Do it now.

The ADI Wildlife Sanctuary



After a long and difficult 18 months working in Guatemala, our Operation Liberty circus rescue is drawing to a successful conclusion, with 21 animals removed from circuses. With such large numbers of ex-circus animals needing space, ADI decided that it was time for us to build our own sanctuary.

For the past 16 months, we purchased land and have been building the ADI Wildlife Sanctuary in South Africa. We are currently home to 26 lions, all but one are those we rescued from circuses in Peru and Colombia. Early in the New Year, with our permits finally in place, we will welcome 17 new residents – 12 tigers and 5 lions from our Operation Liberty circus animal rescue in Guatemala.

The first three of the Guatemala rescues found a wonderful home at Big Cat Rescue in Florida – Kimba, Simba and Max – our three musketeers are settling in, enjoying the peace, respect and care they deserve – our grateful thanks to Big Cat Rescue.

In a wonderful gesture of support for the ADI Wildlife Sanctuary, Big Cat Rescue has announced a matching grant for the installation of an ecological waste disposal and water filtration system (not an easy project for us to fundraise!). This system will ensure our sanctuary is friendly to the local environment and wildlife, conserves water for use on plants and general work, and helps us to be self-sustaining, building on the long-term welfare of our residents.

Big Cat Rescue has offered a matching grant of $50,000 towards the $100,000 required for the drains and reedbed filtration system – can you help us get this matched?

Donate $
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Please do check out our video on YOUTUBE ‘This is the ADI Wildlife Sanctuary’ – see what our current residents are up to – enjoy!

ADI Wildlife Sanctuary website:


Sky’s answer on torture of Tai does not impress

As Tai and the other elephants at Have Trunk Will Travel/The Preserve, continue to existing in abject misery, deprivation, beatings and electric shocks, Sky doesn’t want to address the cruelty behind the scenes in their new An Elephant’s Journey production. Here is their stock answer:

Thank you for contacting us about An Elephant’s Journey and thank you also for your patience whilst we investigated your complaint.
The film concerns a circus elephant named Flora who is no longer able to perform her tricks. To prevent any harm coming to Flora, the circus owner’s daughter decides to sneak her out of the circus, starting a long journey to freedom.
The work was passed uncut by the British Board of Film Classification and it is in their remit to raise any concerns around animal welfare in films which they did not do on this occasion, as they noted no noticeable mistreatment of the elephant seen within the film. Additionally, during the end credits there is text notifying viewers that the American Humane Association were satisfied that no animals were harmed during the filming.
We take animal welfare extremely seriously and, on this occasion, are comfortable that the production complies with the appropriate rules as set out by the American Humane Association and has also been approved by the BBFC for broadcast in the UK.
Kind regards
The Sky Team

I can assure The Sky Team that the above does not represent any kind of investigation of the facts, or sense of duty for pushing a production where animals suffered behind the scenes. Your focus on the fantasy story does not mean that Tai and her companions should experience pain and suffering for your to plug your new product.
You could have contacted ADI to see the footage yourself. Or watch it on YouTube.

If you had asked ADI, we could have explained to you that the American Humane clearance is based on their observers seeing no cruelty on set. People who beat and electric shock animals do not do it in front of anyone. It happens during the real training, back at the ranch, where nobody can hear the screams.
Your response sounds dismissive and uncaring.
Extremely unimpressed.

Abused elephant Tai’s suffering ignored by Sky and FJ Productions

HTWT (now The Preserve) owner Kari Johnson

In an appalling move, Sky (shame on them) is featuring a production called ‘An Elephant’s Journey’, (previously entitled ‘Saving Flora’ in the US).

ADI filmed owners and workers at Have Trunk Will Travel, California (now moved to Texas and called The Preserve), violently and brutally beating and electric shocking elephants as the animals screamed in pain. When ADI sent the evidence to FJ Productions and pleaded with them to use CGI instead of live animals, it was ignored.

Performing elephants are taken from their natural lives, families and habitat, transported on terrifying journeys across the world, beaten and electric shocked into submission, and suffer a life of fear, pain and misery, for just a few minutes of entertainment.  And clearly, for profit for companies like Sky and FJ Productions.

Sky should be ashamed to be showing this revolting and disgraceful depiction of abuse of intelligent, emotional and social beings for a few minutes of entertainment.

Please join ADI in urging Sky to do the right thing and instead of supporting the violence inflicted on Tai, to drop ‘An Elephant’s Journey’ from its broadcast schedule and online store. Contact them today at or send a message through Sky.

Find out more:


Tarzan and Tanya’s story on Valentine’s Day

ADI has been full steam ahead on building our new ADI Wildlife Sanctuary in South Africa since we purchased the property last August. So far, we have built 12 enclosures, planted trees, built brick night houses and platforms/shelters for the cats to see the views. We received our permit to operate the sanctuary and have permission for all of our large cats. By the end of this year, our sanctuary will be home to over 40 big cats, rescued from circuses. See our progress at:

At the same time, ADI has been working this past year with Guatemala’s wildlife and animal welfare officials on enforcement of their country’s ban on animal circuses. We have rescued 21 lions and tigers so far, who are being cared for and prepared for export at our Temporary Rescue Center in Guatemala.

Today, we are telling the story of Tarzan and Tanya, two ex-circus lions at our Temporary Rescue Center – let me paint the picture for you – as the sun sets in Guatemala, lions Tanya and Tarzan snuggle up together and Tarzan begins to wash Tanya’s head. These two beautiful, life-long companions express the kind of bond of love that we all recognise on Valentine’s Day – one that has carried them through the toughest of times.

Tarzan and Tanya spent 8 long years in a small, bare circus cage. At some point during that time, Tarzan was in a fight with a tiger. It must have been horrific and very bloody. His lower lip was torn away from his jaw, and still droops down to this day. His untreated, broken, and infected teeth – commonly seen in circus big cats – left Tarzan in constant pain.

As soon as we rescued Tarzan from the circus, we scheduled him for field dental surgery – his transformation was remarkable. Where he had been subdued and cautious, within days his inner kitten emerged and he began to play. The sight of dear Tarzan playing brought tears to everyone’s eyes.

Tarzan’s companion, Tanya, is small, but brave. She is Tarzan’s protector, patrolling to keep others away from him, and it seems likely that the scars on her face are from her trying to defend him during that savage tiger encounter. While she watches over and guards him, Tarzan is a soothing influence on Tanya, calming her if she gets spooked.

With your help this courageous and loyal lion couple love will be spending their next Valentine’s Day roaming a huge natural enclosure at the new ADI Wildlife Sanctuary. We also hope to undertake surgery to repair Tarzan’s lip once he gets to his forever home.

See Tarzan and Tanya’s story:

I am in Guatemala right now as we work towards the relocation of Tanya and Tarzan and the other lions and tigers to their new homes and provide for all of their urgent needs in our temporary facilities.


Give a Valentine’s Day donation for Tanya and Tarzan’s care and to help them to their new life
Donate US $:
Donate UK £:
You can give the purr-fect gift to the one you love, and adopt Tarzan, Tanya, or one of our other rescued lions, as a gift here:
Adopt US $:
Adopt UK £:

NYC votes to end wild animal circuses!

EALERT BANNER 21.06.2017 V3

Congratulations New York City! As of tonight’s vote, wild animal circuses are consigned to history in NYC. Years of persistent campaigning and especially the work of CM Mendez has finally won through and we have the vote that just makes sense. Traveling circuses have no place in modern society.

Steady progress across the US over past few years has seen the number of jurisdictions making the change rapidly increase – now over 70 – joining nearly 40 countries around the globe whose governments have decided that it is time for the suffering in the name of entertainment to end.

A good day for animals.

Now support TEAPSPA – the Traveling Exotic Animal and Public Safety Protection Act in Congress. Let’s get this DONE.



What I love about this 60 Minutes show, is that the producers took the time to understand what it takes to get to the point where we can empty an entire country of all its circus animals. A decade of work involves the undercover investigations to gather evidence; the public education to spark and define the laws; intense work with government officials to plan and execute seizures of illegal animals. In under 15 minutes, 60 Minutes covers the whole story including the joyous finale where the lions return to their native land.

Without the investigations, scientific, legal and economic research, public education campaigns and new laws to protect animals, there are no rescues. Rescuing every circus animal in Peru, and taking the first nine of the now-outlawed Colombian circus animals, was a huge achievement. Just as we did in Bolivia (see ‘Lion Ark’

The changes must be permanent, we must ensure the captive animals can never be replaced.

These rescues have educated governments, officials and the public to see these animals in a new light – intelligent, emotional individuals, lovers of their families and freedom to live as they choose, in their natural environment. Understanding their place on our shared planet.

There is more to do. More countries need help to make this happen.

Please help investigations–education–awareness leads to animal protection laws = rescues = lasting change:

Watch CBS 60 Minutes and help us do more–

Donate US $
Donate UK £
Donate via Paypal & Euros

Finally, a huge and heartfelt THANK YOU to all the amazing, generous ADI supporters whose donations made this happen, and very SPECIAL THANKS to Bob Barker and the DJ&T Foundation, and The Greater Good.

Lions speak on 60 Minutes, and animal circus news

2017 so far, has been about giving animals their voice – spectacled bear Dominga gave voice on her arrival in her new forest home in Peru (number 109 on the Spirit of Freedom rescue, pictured). She is now next door to spectacled bears Cholita, Lucho and Sabina.


In the UK, I attended a meeting with the Prime Minister’s team on animal circuses and the ivory trade on the very same day that yet another Private Member Bill on animal circuses (similar to the government’s bill) was blocked. The five-year wait for the government bill to be introduced is shameful and embarrassing. 95% of the British public are in support and for the 2015 General Election, all major parties promised a wild animal circus ban. Thus 98% of MPs stood on a manifesto promise to end the use of wild animals in mobile shows. In the next two weeks, together with ADI VP Tim Phillips, I’ll be presenting our film Lion Ark in the Italian Parliament and then we will be in the US for the introduction of a bill in the US Congress.

The 60 Minutes crew much enjoyed the lions’ morning song during the interview at ADI’s temporary rescue facility near Lima, Peru – the lions interrupted the interviews and ensured they got the attention they wanted! The CBS team made a special clip:

Lions interrupt 60 Minutes interview

If you are in the US, tonight (7pm ET/PT), the CBS 60 MINUTES show airs their feature on par of ADI’s Spirit of Freedom, about the airlift of the 33 African lions from Colombia and Peru to their native Africa:

Rescued ex-circus lions update


The lions have spent the months since their arrival at Emoya in South Africa, becoming familiar with their new environment in their bonding camps, reconnecting families and friends, new friendships have been made and we have been busy with extensive veterinary and dental work for broken teeth and infected gums, treatments for nerve damage affecting eyesight, balance and tongue control – all the result of blows to their heads in the circuses.  ADI is funding veterinary care, food, supplements and other supplies as well as some staff, at around $12,000/month.

Many groups are now out in their 2.5-5 acre circular permanent habitats, living as close to their natural life as we can get. Leo (pictured) is living with his mate Muñeca and daughters Africa and Kiara.

Now, we need to raise another $100,000 to build the permanent habitats for the final family groups. These large-scale rescues have made a huge impact on public awareness as well as helping governments to protect animals and have long-term solutions for animals that cannot be returned to the wild. We must complete the work.


Help us raise the permanent homes for these deserving lions, like Ricardo (pictured):

Ringling Bros. circus closure – a good day for animals

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Ringling Bros. Barnum & Bailey Circus has announced that the circus will close in May, citing declining ticket sales; this follows an earlier announcement that there had been a ‘mood shift’ among their consumers about the use of animals in circuses.

This is welcome news. For over twenty years, ADI has published evidence exposing the cramped, barren conditions in which these animals live, with long periods of time tied up and chained with no freedom of movement along with a brutal training culture. Our years of investigations, detailed reports on the scientific evidence and economic arguments and exposing behind-the-scenes brutality has made a difference. This evidence has been a catalyst for action. And public opinion made this happen.

Our thanks to everyone who has given out a leaflet, carried a placard, written a letter, testified, educated friends, family and colleagues, stood outside a circus and informed audiences. You made a difference.


Today’s audiences have many entertainment choices and do not want to see shows where animals are forced to perform and live in, effectively, barren boxes on wheels. Hence the growing popularity of human-only performance shows.

Ringling Bros. made the wrong call by not moving with the times. Although they dropped their elephant acts last year, they continued to misunderstand their audience. The trend away from animal acts includes other animals such as lions and tigers. Circus shows without animals are not only surviving, they are increasingly popular.

This is a business decision, the animals remain the property of Ringling Bros., and they will decide their fate. ADI strongly urges the Feld family to reflect public opinion and allow their ex-circus animals to be taken to good sanctuaries. Let them live out their lives with no call on them to be an exhibit or perform in any way. Let them enjoy the freedom they lost when their forebears were captured.

When the use of animals is ended through national legislation and it becomes illegal for touring shows to have the animals, ADI is happy to assist officials with finding homes and we have relocated approaching 200 animals around the world. The animal protection charities in the US have the resources to manage this task, should Congress act.

Worldwide, 34 countries have looked at the evidence and taken national action to end performing animal shows for reasons of both animal welfare and public safety, with others considering action.

Keeping large, stressed animals in lightweight, mobile facilities is clearly unsafe. The nature of constantly-moving shows is problematic for officials. USDA Inspector General reports describe the difficulties with follow-through on findings of inspections and regulatory enforcement for shows which are constantly on the move.

These concerns have prompted action in the US Congress and Representatives Ryan Costello (R-PA) and Raul Grijalva (D-AZ) plan to introduce the Traveling Exotic Animal Public Safety Protection Act (TEAPSPA), to end the use of animals in these unsafe mobile shows.

ADI will be encouraging the public to support this proportionate and reasonable approach to dealing with such animal welfare and public safety risks. Already, 66 local jurisdictions across 27 states in the US have barred animal circuses from towns and cities, while several states are considering similar legislation. The will is there.

This is an issue whose time has come.J.

More on the Ringling Bros. decision

More on ADI’s campaign to end circus suffering

Lion Ark in Johannesburg and Cape Town for CITES Conference


Delighted that the multi-award winning action-documentary Lion Ark – the story of the dramatic rescue and relocation of 25 lions from circuses in Bolivia will premiere in South Africa later this month, during the CITES Conference (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species). We will be there to work for more protection for lions, elephants, rhinos and others.

Winning multiple awards on the international film festival circuit, critics describe Lion Ark, “the feel-good movie of the year!” (Reel Talk); “One of your must –see films” (The Independent Critic); “A consciousness-raising milestone of a documentary” (The Ecologist); “Lion Ark proceeds with refreshing unpredictability” (The New York Times);” …this film should be a target for this year’s Oscars. Excellent” (ACED Magazine).

Lion Ark tells the story of an ambitious rescue: Animal Defenders International secures a ban on animal circuses in Bolivia following a two-year undercover investigation across South America. Now the law must be enforced. Across vast, hostile terrains the illegal circuses are tracked down, the animals saved, brought to safety and a joyous finale sees 25 lions airlifted to freedom.

More action adventure style than traditional documentary, Lion Ark places the audience right in the thick of the action, up close and personal with the animals and their rescuers. Through real-life action, interviews, conversations and reactions as events unfold, it is a visceral experience feeling the fear and joy of the rescuers as they journey through their incredible mission to save every animal.

WHEN: Thursday 29th September 2016 – 6pm
WHERE: The Labia Theatre, 68 Orange Street Gardens, 80001, Cape Town
TICKETS: or call +27 (0) 021 424 5927

WHEN: Sat 1st October 2016 – 5pm
WHERE: Ster-Kinekor Nouveau Theatre, Rosebank 50 Bath Avenue, Rosebank, Gauteng

I look forward to attending the screenings with Lion Ark Director Tim Phillips; we will follow the film with a Q&A and then show an exclusive preview of the trailer for the new production about the latest Spirit of Freedom operation – over 100 animals saved from circuses and the illegal wildlife trade in South America. All the rescues were built homes in their natural habitats, except Hoover the tiger, who now resides at Big Cat Rescue in Florida – he enjoys his pool.

Perfect to bring this to South Africa now – good for people to see the generational damage inflicted on these animals when they are taken from the wild and used in entertainment. After Lion Ark screenings, I am often told by people that they would never have imagined they could connect with a lion, or recognise their intelligence and emotions. If our film can achieve a measure of empathy, we have made a difference. I do hope the people of South Africa and visitors attending the conference will come to see Lion Ark and understand why it is so important to give wild lions more protection. Come and see the film, look them in the eyes and make the connection.

The culmination of the recent Spirit of Freedom operation was the airlift of the 33 ex-circus lions from Peru and Colombia, back to their native Africa. At Emoya Big Cat Sanctuary in South Africa, our family groups are now settling into their new environment and ADI is making a huge investment, making large natural bush habitats and funding their lifelong care.

Here is a good aim for CITES – no lion to be stolen from the wild ever again to suffer a lifetime of cruelty, deprivation and desperation; passing on the misery and suffering generation after generation, for just a few minutes of human entertainment. Likewise, let’s end the killing for entertainment. Surely, we can all agree on that.

Circus cage pushed into position - Arequipa

The Lion Ark DVD is scheduled for worldwide release in November (we will have some advance copies at the screenings).