Bolivian circus lions bound for Calaveras County

SAN ANDREAS, CA – Five African lions that have lived their entire lives in circus wagons will soon roam their own corner of the sprawling Performing Animal Welfare Society sanctuary in Calaveras County.

A four-year campaign by London-based Animal Defenders International (ADI) ended last year with Bolivia outlawing circus performances by all animals, wild and domestic.  It’s believed to be the first such ban on a national level.

ADI arranged to house and feed the lions in Bolivia until a permanent home could be found.  The organization was aware of PAWS and its 2,300 acre compound and offered to pay most of the cost for construction of the lion enclosure and lifetime maintenance of the animals.  The five lions from Bolivia, three females and two males, will join a female lion now living at the smaller PAWS sanctuary in Galt.

PAWS co-founder Ed Stewart estimated the size of the new lion enclosure at well over an acre.  He said the perimeter fence would be 18 feet high, the same as the nearby enclosure housing the 29 surviving tigers rescued from a Southern California breeder in 2003.

Stewart said the cost of the lion enclosure was approaching $200,000 and he expressed gratitude for ADI’s financial commitment.  “We don’t expect people to pay when they put an animal here.  But it certainly helps when the economy’s like this,” he said.

The lions from Bolivia were expected to arrive in San Andreas in early May.  PAWS co-founder Pat Derby said she was anxious to see how the lions would respond to their new home.  “They may never have seen grass.  They may never have seen a tree.  So it’s exciting,” she said.

Source: News10


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