Thirty-three lions rescued from circuses in Peru and Colombia headed back to their homeland Friday to live out the rest of their lives in a private sanctuary in South Africa.
The largest-ever airlift of lions was organized by Animal Defenders International. The Los Angeles-based group has for years worked with lawmakers in the two countries to ban the use of wild animals in circuses, where they often are held in appalling conditions.
The long journey began Thursday in Colombia where a caravan carrying the first nine lions departed the city of Bucaramanga for a 14-hour drive to Bogota’s international airport. From there, they were loaded onto a cargo plane and flown to Peru’s capital to pick up the remaining 24.
Their flight to Johannesburg departed from Lima’s airport Friday evening.
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