WINBURG, South Africa (AP) — Twelve tigers and five lions have been relocated to a sanctuary in South Africa after being rescued from circuses in Guatemala following years of abuse and confinement.
The animals, both cubs and adults, are among 200 that have been rescued from the circus industry in Guatemala, Peru, Bolivia and Colombia within the past decade. The countries have banned the use of animals in circuses.
Enforcement of the law in Guatemala has been a challenge, so the government has partnered with animal rights groups such as the London-based Animal Defenders International to help.
“These animals have suffered a lifetime of deprivation and abuse,” ADI president Jan Creamer said in a statement. The group runs the South Africa sanctuary, which is already home to 26 rescued lions.
The lions and tigers were transported with chartered aircraft to South Africa, arriving Tuesday morning, then were carried to the sanctuary in large trucks.