NYC votes to end wild animal circuses!

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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.

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WATCH ADI SAVING ANIMALS ON CBS 60 MINUTES

http://www.cbsnews.com/news/disturbing-footage-of-circus-animal-abuse-leads-to-widespread-reform/

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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’ http://www.lionarkthemovie.com/).

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 $ http://bit.ly/1TjatPq
Donate UK £ http://bit.ly/1WXaj5X
Donate via Paypal & Euros http://bit.ly/29BldiH

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.

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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:

http://www.cbsnews.com/news/lions-interrupt-60-minutes-interview/

Lions interrupt 60 Minutes interview

www.cbsnews.com

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:

http://www.cbsnews.com/news/33-lions-rescued-in-largest-airlift-of-its-kind/

Rescued ex-circus lions update

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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.

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

https://www.ad-international.org/take_action/donate.php

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.

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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 http://bit.ly/2iz4KgC

More on ADI’s campaign to end circus suffering http://bit.ly/29BldiH

Lion Ark in Johannesburg and Cape Town for CITES Conference

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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.

CAPE TOWN:
WHEN: Thursday 29th September 2016 – 6pm
WHERE: The Labia Theatre, 68 Orange Street Gardens, 80001, Cape Town
TICKETS: http://www.lionarkthemovie.com/screenings/ or call +27 (0) 021 424 5927

JOHANNESBURG:
WHEN: Sat 1st October 2016 – 5pm
WHERE: Ster-Kinekor Nouveau Theatre, Rosebank 50 Bath Avenue, Rosebank, Gauteng
TICKETS: http://www.lionarkthemovie.com/screenings/

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).

#33 lions #lionsbacktoafrica.org – update

Joseph at Emoya

Joseph relaxing in his new habitat at Emoya Big Cat Sanctuary, South Africa. All 33 lions are settling down into their new routine and continuing to explore. Joseph has inspected his habitat in detail and is clearly enjoying just lying about in the sun. As each animal is observed over the next weeks and months, some new groups will be formed and current established families will be given their extended habitats – but only once veterinary operations are complete and we are confident about levels of fitness and adaption to their environment. A huge sense of peace has settled over the sanctuary as the morning and evening roaring of the 33 becomes familiar to all other residents!

#33 lions – they are home

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Two years of gruelling hard work has got us to Africa with our rescued lions – the 33 from circuses and Peru and Colombia are home in their native land. Enjoying more space, trees, grass, bushes and sun than they have ever experienced in their lives, they will never suffer again.

I am sitting at Emoya Big Cat Sanctuary in Limpopo, South Africa as our 33 lions roar into their second sunset in the African bush. They are in their large bonding camps, separate fenced rooms with their usual companions. In these camps they will come together again as families, we can complete dental surgeries and procedures to prevent breeding will be completed, and more. As each group becomes ready, they will be released into their 2.5-5 acre enclosures, allocated by size of pride and needs (for example our elderly and special needs individuals will have smaller enclosures). It will take at least 12 weeks before the first families move out to live forever in their own piece of the African bush. They’ll return to their bonding camps each day, to be fed and can also be monitored.

Phase II of the build, the remainder of the habitats are being completed over the coming months. We’ve built roads into the bush, power lines, electric fencing, gates, spring-fed water ponds. We must raise a further $150,000 to finish the rest of the habitats for our 33 lions saved from lives of desperation and suffering. They deserve their chance for a peaceful life under the African sun.

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Junior here, is enjoying the African bush – seeing our lions rub up against their first tree, walk through the shrubs and grass of Africa for the first time, has been stunning. A huge privilege to be here to see their world expand.

The passionate support and enthusiasm of the public across Latin America, Africa and worldwide has been truly overwhelming. We are so grateful that so many have supported this rescue and been willing to speak for the individual lions we have been so determined to give their chance of happiness – on their behalf, thank you – the Cusco family: Rey, Kiara, Smith, Amazonas, Mahla and Scarc. The Huarrals: Leo, Muñeca, Coco, Chino, Rolex, Africa, Kiara2. Brothers Rey and Simba Ayachucho. David and Rapunzel, Arequipa. They Huancayos: King, Junnior and Ricardo. The Limas: Liso, José and Joseph. The Bucaramanga, Colombia family: Barbie, Bollilo, Bumba, Junior, Easy, Shakira, Iron, Ojiclaro and Zeus.

So many helped with the cost of the flight – $10,000 per lion – special thanks to Bob Barker and DJ&T Foundation, Greater Good, Oakland Zoo, Spurlino Foundation and Bannerman Foundation, Dr Lo Sprague and Rev Dr Gwynne Guidbord and so many others – you all know who you are – who gave so much to give life and a future to these wonderful lions. Thank you all.