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After spending most of their lives in circuses with tight living quarters, eight lions and Bengal tigers have now been rescued as part of two rescue missions. From now on, they will spend the rest of their lives at wildlife sanctuaries in South Africa.
Two of the Bengal tigers were dumped at a local farm in San Luis, Argentina. The farmer was asked to temporarily look after the animals, but the circus never returned to pick them up. Later on, the tigers had two pups and according to Plant Based News, they spent four years together in a metal train carriage.
“The train carriage was filthy with excrements and leftover meat and bones for a long time, but fortunately this is not the case anymore,” said Dr. Amir Khalil, a veterinarian with Four Paws International, which led the rescue operation.
“These tigers have never felt grass or earth under their paws,” Khalil added, as reported by EuroNews. “It’s the first time they can see the sky above them, not just metal bars and a roof.”
The tigers' names are Sandro, Mafalda, Messi and Gustavo. From now on they are living at the LIONSROCK Big Cat Sanctuary in Bethlehem, South Africa.
As for the lions, they are called Angela, Bellone, Saïda and Louga. They were rescued during an operation in France managed by The Born Free Foundation. The lions have been part of various circuses since they were cubs and until 2018 when they were relinquished. After that, they were held in a rescue center in Lyon, France, before they could be moved to the Shamwari Private Game Reserve in South Africa by Born Free.
“We are delighted that Louga, Saida, Angela and Bellone are safely with us at Shamwari,” Catherine Gillson, Born Free manager at Shamwari Private Game Reserve, said. “The journey of our Lions of Lockdown has been long, but hopefully with each day spent with us in the peace of our sanctuary, they will continue to grow from strength to strength. Their re-homing to our Big Cat Sanctuary at Shamwari will allow them to get as close to experiencing the life they were denied for so many years! The sights, sounds and scents of their fellow rescued big cats will heighten their senses immediately as they begin to acclimatize to their new lives. They are now in their forever home in Africa.”