A new relationship with animals, nature and each other.

Lions from Bolivia Settling In at Sanctuary

Exercise, fresh air, and a good group roar

The 25 lions rescued from terrible conditions at circuses in Bolivia are settling down at their new home in Colorado.

Last week, Animal Defenders International (ADI) flew them to Denver as part of its Operation Lion Ark, from where they were driven to the Wild Animal Sanctuary.

The big cats are living in a 15,000-square-foot temporary biosphere, complete with grass, trees and other natural features, at the sanctuary. Meanwhile, the sanctuary is building a permanent 80-acre fenced site for the lions.

Before then, the lions need to get acclimated to the new environment – and to each other.

Living in Bolivia is obviously a lot warmer than Colorado. But the climate in Colorado is not far from what lions expect in North Africa, which can get quite cold in winter. Staff at the sanctuary say they’ll be ready for their permanent living area in late March or April.

At that time, they’ll be living in four groups, or prides. The lions have already begun to roar in unison. “That means they’re beginning to bond as we expected,” explained Pat Craig, director of the sanctuary.

They’re also getting exercise, running and playing.

“Like many rescued animals from extreme captive situations, they are quickly accepting all of the positive changes that are happening,” said Craig. “There’s nowhere to go but up when you have lived at the bottom, so they are grasping every opportunity to enjoy life. This will continue all the way until they are roaming freely in large acreage habitats, when they can complete their journey.”

Bob Barker, the former host of The Price Is Right helped fund the rescue and contributed $150,000 to the new home at Wild Animal Sanctuary.

Bolivia banned all animal acts in circuses in 2009, which led to the rescue of the lions.

Here’s a slide show by the Wild Animal Sanctuary of the lions at the new home.

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