“Operation Liberty” took 18 long months, but it resulted in the rescue of some of the world’s rarest and most beautiful wild animals. Twenty-one tigers and lions have been saved from circuses in Guatemala, and 17 of them are experiencing their natural habitat for the first time in years.
In April 2017, Guatemala banned the use of wild animals in circuses. Existing shows were given a year to surrender their animals. GreaterGood.org’s partner organization Animal Defenders International has been helping care for a group of lions and tigers who’s future has since been looking much brighter.
The work wasn’t always easy, to say the least.
GreaterGood.org and ADI faced complications in planning flights for the animals, while threats of violence forced them to move the sanctuary to a temporary location in Guatemala. Now, after a year and a half, 17 of those cats have been delivered to their forever home in South Africa.
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Twelve tigers and five lions were delivered on Jan. 21, 2020, to the ADI Wildlife Sanctuary (ADIWS) in South Africa.
“For the final leg of their journey home, the animals traveled once again by truck to the 455-acre ADIWS in Free State,” ADI reports.
The first night home was marked by inclement weather, but Operation Liberty has been a success, made possible by donations from readers of The Rainforest Site, two who won the honor of naming some young tiger cubs, “Max” and “Stripes.”
“After arriving at the sanctuary, during the late afternoon of January 21, a fierce storm blew in as ADI began unloading the big cats,” ADI reports. “Although it was possible to release young tigers Max and Stripes – who after their first cautious steps prowled opposite lengths of the huge habitat perimeter before bursting into a run when they spotted one another – and their father Itza, the release of the other animals had to be abandoned until this morning due to the worsening weather.”
As soon as the storm passed and the sun came out, these animals found themselves with plenty of room to run, play, and thrive, and all thanks to supportive donors like you.
“Kimba, Sasha, and Tomás were the first to be released on January 22, followed by Tanya and her doting partner Tarzan, and then the remaining tigers Sasha and Kumal, Sun and Moon, Luna and Jade, and Sombra, Bimbi, and Lupe,” ADI reports.
Learn more about “Operation Liberty” in the video below, and scroll further to see how you can help us save even more lions.
Matthew Russell is a West Michigan native and with a background in journalism, data analysis, cartography and design thinking. He likes to learn new things and solve old problems whenever possible, and enjoys bicycling, going to the dog park, spending time with his daughter, and coffee.