Operation Spirit of Freedom has been the biggest animal rescue of its kind, with Animal Defenders International helping the authorities in Peru and Colombia to enforce legislation ending the use of wild animals in circuses. Nearly 100 animals, who have all suffered terribly at the hands of humans, have been saved.
Our work to save these animals started back in 2005, when ADI investigators worked undercover in circuses across Latin America, gathering the evidence of the brutality and suffering.
In 2007, we launched our findings in five countries in Latin America, with our ‘Stop Circus Suffering’ campaign. The evidence from our two-year undercover investigation caused a public outcry and calls for action across the continent. Bolivia responded to the new evidence first, banning all animals in travelling circuses, followed by Peru, Ecuador, Paraguay, Colombia and more recently El Salvador, Panama and Mexico have announced wild animal circus bans (Costa Rica having banned following an earlier investigation). Many other countries around the world have been taking action on this issue.
During our Operation Lion Ark rescue mission, ADI helped Bolivia enforce its legislation, swooping in on the illegal circuses and rescuing every single animal. As a result of this successful rescue, we were ready to assist Peru implement its ban. However, the circuses were prepared and this has made it our biggest and most challenging rescue yet.
During the 18-month Operation Spirit of Freedom mission, our rescue team travelled all over Peru tracking down the circuses; we built a temporary rescue centre to collect the animals together, fed and cared for them and provided veterinary treatments as we prepared them for their forever homes.
For the native Peruvian wildlife, we built jungle habitats for five different species of monkeys in family groups, bears, a puma, and other native wild animals.
We have provided logistical support to the authorities so the animals could be seized, and we have assisted with saving animals from the illegal wildlife trade.
Our journeys to rescue animals and take them to their forever homes in the Amazon has seen us cross the Andes five times during 35-hour journeys with our precious cargoes.
And the greatest challenge of all completed – taking our rescued African lions to a wonderful new life in their native Africa!