Last August I wrote a post about the amazing work of the Wild Animal Sanctuary in Keenesburg, Colorado. The Sanctuary is “the oldest and largest nonprofit Sanctuary in the US dedicated exclusively to rescuing captive exotic and endangered large carnivores, providing them with a wonderful life for as long as they live, and educating about the tragic plight faced by an estimated 30,000 such animals in America today.”

A couple of weeks ago, the Sanctuary took its efforts a step further when it rescued 25 lions from small traveling circuses in Bolivia. The organization worked with Animal Defenders International (ADI) in a campaign called Operation Lion Ark.

ADI championed the legislation that made circus animals illegal in Bolivia, the reason why so many lions needed to be rescued. As is typical with animals in a circus, the lions apparently spend most of their lives in small cages on the backs of trucks. The wide-open spaces of the Wild Animal Sanctuary are sure to make a big difference in the lives of these carnivores.

ADI president Jan Creamer said: “This has been a dream for so long for us, to empty a whole country of its circus animals. The lions are going into a life that they have never dreamed of. We wanted a place where we could bring all the lions together; we didn’t want them split up.”

According to a 17 February article in the Denver Postby Jeffrey Leib, “Bob Barker, the former host of ‘The Price is Right’ game show and a longtime animal-rights activist, contributed $2 million to ADI for its animal-rescue work, and his funding helped construct the new fabric-covered lion house that covers nearly 10 acres at the sanctuary. ‘My only hope is that this will open the door to putting circuses out of business, as far as animals are concerned, in other countries,’ Barker said.”

The picture above, taken from the Wild Animal Sanctuary website, shows one of the lions in his new home. I can’t bear the pictures of them in the tiny trailers, uncomfortable cages and other makeshift homes in which they used to live.

The Sanctuary has eight enclosures where the lions will live until they are used to the sometimes harsh Colorado climate. This summer, I hope to take my children to see the lions after they are released into the habitats surrounding the lion house.