Magic Moments 2014 - Animal Defenders International (ADI)
An Animal Rights Article from


Animal Defenders International (ADI)
December 2014

With your help we have secured the protection of animals around the world, particularly those who suffer in the name of entertainment, so join with me to count down our top ten magic moments from the past 12 months.

10. ADI's Operation Spirit of Freedom gets underway in Peru
Having won a ban on wild animals in circuses in Peru in 2012, 2014 was the year the law was enforced – with ADI embarking on its most ambitious rescue mission to save the animals. First, we tracked down the circuses with wild animal acts and after months of planning and construction from scratch of a temporary holding center we were ready to swoop. In early August we raided the first circus in Huarral with the Peruvian authorities removing four lions. In the following week ADI raided circuses all over Peru. We now have a total of 30 lions and 10 monkeys, for whom the New Year will mark the beginning of the rest of their lives.

9. Local bans passed on performing animals
Sowing the seeds for nationwide bans, ADI supports campaigns for bans on either all animal acts or wild animals in cities and districts all over the world. Throughout 2014, these continued to be secured by campaigners worldwide, including Norway which saw its first ban, numerous districts in Iran, Plymouth MA and Ketchum ID in the US, and more bans were secured in Australia and Ireland with the Arts Council of Ireland slashing its funding for animal circuses yet again.

8. ADI rescue Colombia's first banned circus animals
Colombia passed its wild animal circus ban last year following a six year campaign by ADI supported by campaigners all over the country. The ban will not come into force until next year, but already the first circus agreed to hand over its animals and go animal free. Nine lions – Junior, Iron, Bolillo, Barbie, Shakira, Easy, Bumba, Ojiclaro and Zeus – are all in ADI’s care in Bucaramanga, northern Colombia. The lions will be joining the 21 we have removed from circuses across Peru in our Operation Spirit of Freedom mission and who have a wonderful future ahead of them in the US – but that means a huge relocation operation to Peru followed by the epic flight to Colorado!

7. Lion Ark Roars
2014 was the year Lion Ark roared, scooping up multiple awards at film festivals, standing ovations and a nomination from the world’s oldest civil rights organization, the NAACP. The story of ADI’s rescue mission to enforce Bolivia’s ban on animals in circuses is that rare thing, an animal protection documentary that does not pull its punches, is exciting, but above all else has a happy ending! The story where the animals are the stars received critical acclaim and secured a global distribution deal with ITV Global who showcased Lion Ark in Cannes and plan to take the story of the lions into living rooms worldwide in 2015. The Spanish version, Arca de Leones, opened in Bolivian cinemas with massive media interest and politicians responding saying zoos should be banned next! Lion Ark is a film that creates awareness, inspires and leaves you with a smile on your face and in 2015 we hope it will be seen by many more people.

6. ADI cuts Pepe free from his chains
The circus broke off his teeth, so he could not defend himself, and they kept him on a chain attached to a collar permanently wired around his neck. But Pepe the spider monkey’s life changed the day ADI rescued him from a circus in Cuzco, Peru. The ADI team travelled with him for over 35 hours over the Andes back to the ADI Spirit of Freedom Rescue Center near Lima. There ADI President Jan Creamer and Vice President Tim Phillips led little Pepe by the hand to his new enclosure and, still holding his hand, cut the chains from his neck. Pepe has received specialist dental treatment to relieve the pain and repair the damage caused by having his canine teeth snapped off in the circus, and he swings and plays in his enclosure. If freeing Pepe from his chains was one of the most magical moments of 2014, then 2015 has even more in store for Pepe as ADI takes him to his forever home to meet more of his own kind.

5. Circus bans sweep Europe
The tide is turning on animal circuses and 2014 has seen yet more bans on wild or all animals in circuses. Belgium, Estonia and The Netherlands all passed legislation prohibiting wild animal acts whilst Malta banned all animals in circuses! We are winning for the animals and will be continuing our work with our campaign partners across the continent to secure further victories in 2015!

4. Smith saved!
Smith is the lion who cheated death! When the ADI team raided Circo Monaco in Cuzco, there was a fierce confrontation and the rescue of all the animals was blocked. ADI were allowed to rescue three lions (Rey, Amazonas and Kiara) but three others, Smith (a large castrated male lion who had been separated from his cagemate Amazonas) and cubs Mahla and Scarc remained. They seemed doomed. Then days later in an incredibly irresponsible act, the circus invited a member of the audience into the ring for Smith to jump over. When Smith leapt on the teacher and dragged her around the ring like a rag doll, it was all caught on camera and the shocking images shot around the world. There were calls for Smith to be killed. But ADI fought to save him and journeyed back across the Andes to Cuzco. Days later Smith was safe with ADI and ADI reunited mother Kiara with her cubs Mahla and Scarc. Smith has calmed down and is one of the most playful of the ADI lions waiting for their flight to the USA.

3. Panama bans wild animals in circuses
Last year, El Salvador followed Costa Rica in banning wild animals in circuses and in February 2014 Panama became the latest Central American country to ban wild animal acts. With bans in Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Paraguay passed since 2009 the momentum in Latin America is incredible.

2. Mexico bans wild animals in circuses
Heralding one of the biggest breakthroughs in the campaign to stop circus suffering, Mexico passed legislation to ban the use of wild animals in circuses in December 2014 with an overwhelming majority. ADI stood shoulder to shoulder with campaigners all over Mexico presenting evidence to Congress, calling for the ban, and we have been asked by the Green Party in Mexico to help promote the ban and the fines circuses with wild animals face. A huge victory at the end of the year, a tribute to all those who campaigned, held placards, gave out leaflets, and an inspiration to everyone fighting for real progress around the world.

1. ADI empties Peru's circuses of animals
It was dark and the ADI team was exhausted as the holding cages of lions were unloaded from our trucks at the ADI Spirit of Freedom Rescue Center in November, but it was a momentous day. These were Peru’s last wild animals in circuses. The last circus had handed over its two lions to ADI and pledged it would go completely animal-free. Since campaigning for and securing the ban, ADI had set about the task of tracking down every circus with wild animals. We had travelled thousands of miles and when seizing animals with the Peruvian authorities had faced abuse and resistance. We had built a holding center for lions, monkeys and other animals from scratch and we had brought animals from every corner of this huge country there. That night in November, ADI’s President turned from the lion’s cage being unloaded and announced “There are no wild animals left in Peru’s circuses, we have them.” As staggering as this achievement was it was just part one, now ADI must care for these animals – 30 lions and over a dozen other animals – prepare new homes and relocate them thousands of miles to their forever homes. ADI won’t be resting in 2015 – that’s for sure! Cage-shove-200x150

It can take many years to win change for the animals so our long-term commitment, and your continuing support, is vital in saving lives – as shown by the momentum generated by our Stop Circus Suffering campaign in Latin America where our groundbreaking 2-year investigation has been instrumental in securing a growing numbers of bans across the region.

Having won the bans in Peru and Colombia, we are now bringing the animals to sanctuary and will be transporting them to their forever homes in the New Year. PLEASE HELP US BY DONATING!

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