Freed after 20 years: Mountain Lion Freed

Published: November 21, 2015

Freed after 20 years: Mountain Lion Freed, After suffering years of chained captivity on the back of a pickup truck, the proud big cat has finally said goodbye to the circus for a tranquil life in his new forest domain.

These poignant scenes show how Mufasa’s fortunes changed for the better after a fraught operation to wrench him from a squalid life as a peepshow curiosity by British-based Animal Defenders International (ADI).

For more than 20 years, Mufasa, stolen from the wild as a cub, had suffered the indignity of being bound in chains and left to languish among rusting circus equipment as the travelling show meandered among remote South American villages.

Luckily, ADI received a tip on in April that Circo Koreander was operating illegally in a distant outpost of northern Peru.

Backed by police and wildlife officers, the charity moved in but were greeted with hostile resistance.

An eight-hour stand off ensued before riot police and a public prosecutor arrived and Mufasa, along with an Andean condor, were finally handed over.

At last, it was time for Peru’s last wild animal in circus captivity to be broken free from his shackles.

Charity workers endured an eight-hour stand off with hostile circus workers before Mustafa was freed
Animal Defenders International President Jan Creamer who led the rescue team in Peru describes the first moment he was cut loose from his living hell.

“It was heartbreaking to see Mufasa chained among the circus equipment, living on the back of a pickup truck,” she says. “A heavy harness and chains were wrapped around his body and as we cut them away, he stretched, free, for the first time…”

This was the first act of an intrepid odyssey to return Mufasa to his native haunts. After being nursed back to health at ADI’s Spirit of Freedom rescue centre near Lima, it was time for the next stage of his journey by boat and road across Peru to his “forever home” on the edge of the Tambopata reserve in the Amazon rainforest.


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