Klaserie River Sands

Abused circus lions to be flown back to Africa


An extraordinary “Lion-Air” rescue mission by a team from the UK is to fly 33 abused circus lions back to Africa.


The airlift – which will fly the 33 lions on a specially chartered Boeing 747 – is the biggest in history.

Almost all of the rescued lions have been mutilated and have had their claws removed. One has lost an eye, another is almost blind, and many have smashed and broken teeth.

The big cats were saved by Animal Defenders International (ADI) from 10 circuses in Peru and Colombia. Nine ex-circus lions from Colombia will join 24 from Peru on the flight.

Now the animals, which have been rescued from horrific conditions by a UK animal rights organisation, will live the rest of their lives under the African sun.

The lions, which endured years confined in cages in trucks and a brutal life in circuses, are heading to huge natural enclosures at Emoya Big Cat Sanctuary in South Africa.

ADI is chartering a Boeing 747 to transport all 33 lions with a veterinary team.

President Jan Creamer, who is leading the rescue mission, said: “We are delighted that these lions who have suffered so much will be going home to Africa where they belong.”


The Emoya Big Cat Sanctuary is set in 5,000 hectares on a private estate in Limpopo Province. The sanctuary is already home to eight rescued lions and tigers in large acreage habitats of pristine African bush. Sanctuary founder Savannah Heuser said: “We are deeply honoured and privileged to be part of such a massive operation. We salute ADI for saving the animals and ending suffering. Let’s bring these 33 to Africa. Let’s bring them home. Their lives were forcibly wasted away in horrific tiny cages, the doing of mindless circus acts, I cannot start to comprehend the endless days suffering that these animals had to endure. They have a lot of lost time to make up for. They will live out the rest of their lives in a natural habitat, the closest they can ever come to freedom.


Jan-Creamer-Tim-Philips-by-beastwagon-at-circus Lion-kept-caged-in-circus-for-13-YEARS-feels-grass-and-dirt-for-the-first-time Lions-at-a-lion-farm




News Desk

A collection of current affairs articles and press releases from third party sources.

  • Diane Anderson

    so proud of you for doing this, the pictures break my heart, THANK YOU

  • Sandra Bennett

    This is so horrific…some humans have no compassion for animals that are more beautiful than they are..God Bless you for the rescue of these beautiful animals. ..without people like you, these animals would have surely died…

  • Ed Camilleri

    So sad to know that there are those who are capable of such heinous crimes.such irreversible damage on these lions, I hope who did this will rot forever.

    Glad that there are those who on the contrary go out of their way to help. Prosit, well done

  • Loandra Smith

    Bless every soul that makes this life worth living again for any animal who suffered; endured despicable cruelty and evil. I pray that the Lord will bless the lifesavers and the ones whom make this world a better place <3<3<3 I and millions of people pray for angels such as yourselves to help en save, and even relieve the pain and hurt (physically, emotionally and psychologically) *Thank you purest of souls xoxoxox

  • Muddymudslimes

    Thank goodness. These conditions are deplorable.

  • Mo

    Cecil the lion has not died in vain, he has made the world aware that animals have rights. Thank goodness for all the people who care about animals and want to protect them. With more publicity like this lets hope we can change peoples evil, ignorant ways. It breaks my heart to see animals suffer like this!

    • Kathrin Grüning

      What exactly means “emoya”? Cause there exists another located Bloemfortain but main bureau in pretoria ? Another? big cat emoya exists in south africa. Its a luxury first classhotel with many sorts of big cats, cub-petting and very probably hunting safaris too.(two links. Same hotel. One Link with hunting holidays, the other without.) 🙂

      • Malgorzata Tarasiewicz

        Emoya Big Cat Sanctuary is not Emoya Hotel and Spa. It is only coincidental use of the same word “Emoya”.
        Emoya Big Cat Sanctuary is located in Limpopo, South Africa. They are in no way connected or associated with Emoya Hotel and Spa, which is located in
        the Free State. Emoya Big Cats Sanctuary offer a sanctuary to the rescued wild big cats. They’re NOT a breeding facility. All males have vasectomies. Emoya Big Cats Sanctuary do NOT allow any interaction with the big cats.
        Emoya Big Cat Sanctuary does not have a website available to the public
        yet, the only place you will find information about sanctuary is on
        their Facebook page.


        • Kathrin Grüning

          Thank you for that answer, but i am still very sceptical abouth that. No doubt, there can be different locations with that name in SA, but about possibly connetion…sorry. Only available on Facebook….And what means the word “emoya” ?


    God Bless these wonderful people that are aiding these Gos creatures. May God Bless allthe ones for this wonderful help , I myself am sad to see that we still have in this world ORRIBLE …. that do this to the beloved aimals . But one thing I am sure about it , God doesn’t sleep He sees everything that happens in this world , The worse ones will have horribe end and the angels that help them will be Blessed forever here and eternity . GOD BLESS YOU ALL and MAY GOD HEAL OUR DEAR LIONS AND ALL ANIMALS THAT ARE IN PAIN.

  • venkatesh Kini

    Well done team. You protected those lions’ rights. May God bless you and your family. I havevcommunicated decided not to watch any circus that involves animal in their troop.

    Good luck
    With lot of love
    From India

  • Louise Tyrrell

    What a horrific story, thank you ADI for doing such a wonderful job, please can we have a follow up as to how they are doing.

  • Schroederville

    That photo of the starved emaciated lion with open wounds is HORRIFYING!!! How on Earth could anyone let this happen?!!! I am so glad to hear these animals will live the rest of their natural lives out in relative peace and comfort. God Bless those who would save instead of hurt…

  • ShakinDemus

    Human beings make me sick….

  • Ana Cardoso

    Stop cruelty against animals!!

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