ARCHIVED ARTICLE FROM SEPT 2015
Ines Romero and Renee Esebag of Cecil’s Angels make a plea to Oprah and Ellen to join them in the fight to protect and rescue African wildlife and end animal cruelty around the world. Please share far and wide so this video can go viral and attract attention from big time celebs who can help our cause!
That would be my headline were I to write a personal ad for these 33 abused Peruvian and Colombian circus lions now rescued and in the loving care of Animal Defenders International (ADI). These magnificent beasts had up until a few months ago lived a life of pure misery, torture and violence at the hands of brutal circus owners who mercilessly carted them around the country in the backs of trucks in horrid rusty cages with barely the room for them to turn around. Many had their toes and claws amputated in barbaric ‘surgeries’ and their teeth smashed with iron bars as they were forced to perform mindless tricks for paying customers. Before everyone’s eyes glaze over and y’all fall into a deep depression requiring copious amounts of Xanax let me quickly add that this story has a happy ending. You see, a miraculous offer has been extended to these wonderful beings by a private sanctuary owner in South Africa for their lodging and lifelong care in a pristine 15,000 acre natural habitat at Emoya Big Cat Sanctuary. Did I mention they (24 lions) are currently in an ADI temporary holding facility in Peru with 9 more in Colombia? That’s where the Magic Carpet bit comes in, but more on that later.
Last Sunday I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing the founders of ADI Jan Creamer and Tim Phillips. These are undoubtedly a couple of the fiercest, most experienced and passionate animal rights ‘human tornadoes’ I’ve ever met. Kind and polite as they are, with delightful British accents, one would be wise not to underestimate them. They mean business as witnessed in the Nightline segment when a fearless Jan, with lightning rods coming out of her eyes, threw herself between an angry circus owner and the terrified animals he was trying to hold on to. After over 20 years of investigating animal abuse, securing legislation to stop it and subsequently rescuing the animals involved ADI is a one stop shop for ending animal cruelty be it for circus or lab animals. I must confess that I secretly suspect that Jan is Wonder Woman and Tim Batman. They certainly are able to move heaven and earth for the animals they rescue in order to get them to safety.
Their results are indeed impressive with ‘bold animal protection legislation’ in 31 countries (legislation also currently under discussion in Chile and Brazil) including 5 in South America and 4 in Latin America. I find it both ironic and disturbing that a country like Bolivia has managed to rid themselves of this plague while the UK, USA and my home country Denmark can’t seem to get their act together (pun intended).
As my interview drifts past the one hour mark, Tim treats me to fantastic stories of their favorite rescues (Cholita the bald bear and Toto the chimp) all the while dismantling an impressive vegan glazed and oatmeal covered ‘cronut’ with surgical precision.
My heart soars as I watch a new video of two young lions now in a grassy enclosure (at the ADI Rescue Center in Peru) playing with bails of hay and a soon to be deflated soccer ball. Everything they do with the lions is carefully planned and designed specifically to restore their physical health as well as heal their psychological scars. One lion was almost blind due to malnutrition but even he can now see again thanks to a special diet created by the 4 vets on staff currently looking after them.
I’m told heartbreaking stories of two lions and a lioness so terribly abused by their human demons that they would lunge themselves at the metal bars to attack anyone passing by to the point of causing themselves injuries and bleeding. After much care and healing they are now thankfully more at peace, calm and even friendly cats no longer fearful of unprovoked violence and beatings.
When the subject of trophy hunting and the reviled Dr. Palmer comes up Jan visibly stiffens and her voice lowers as she utters the word ‘psychopath’ (cue the ocular lightning rods) followed up with ‘he said he loves doing this. He’s saying he loves destroying, killing and watching something die’. As Tim chimes in the warm smiling and jovial storyteller is also transformed: ‘He used a bow which is the slowest and cruelest way to kill’ he says with thinly veiled disdain.
They don’t mince words when faced with the hunters claims that they help conservation and the local communities. Jan: ‘there are plenty of economic studies that show that photo tourism is infinitely more valuable than trophy hunting and that only a small fraction of the ‘trophy money’ reaches the general community’. Perhaps the best quote of the day is somberly delivered by Tim: ‘It’s like putting pedophiles in charge of orphanages isn’t it?’ ‘Nuff said.
They are optimistic, however, that humans are evolving into a new and better relationship with animals evident in the many circus bans happening simultaneously around the world which Tim refers to as ‘a quantum shift’. Jan: ‘the other species that share this planet have a right to be here too. If we can’t care about other species then we don’t have much hope for caring about our own since it’s about extending the circle of compassion’.
So now we are back where we started at the Magic Carpet – more specifically – a 747 cargo plane capable of making the 13 hour flight from Lima to Johannesburg non stop with all the lions, ADI staff and vet aboard. Also, the 9 lions in Colombia need to join the pride in Peru first. Surprisingly a ticket aboard this vessel cannot be easily nor cheaply purchased on Travelocity nor bartered for with saved up airline miles. It’s hideously expensive (think $10K pr. lion) and before you know it – Ouch – well over $350K. Here’s where we, the general public, get our chance to be superheroes. Please donate directly to ADI to make this ‘the biggest rescue of this kind ever undertaken’ possible.
DONATE NOW AND HELP GET THE ANIMALS HOME http://bit.ly/1JUEEaO
So what’s next for this unstoppable duo? Colombia and Mexico, which have over 75 and 500 wild animals respectively that need to be seized and relocated to sanctuaries. It’s a monumental task but when these two decide to once again don their capes and fly into action it WILL happen. Trust me.
Please see links below to watch ADI on Nightline:
WATCH ABC Nightline part one http://abcn.ws/1JZ6WEf
WATCH ABC Nightline part two http://abcn.ws/1NkcUll
It turns out that lions like their domestic cat cousins also love catnip! If you’d like to donate bags of catnip for the lions please mail to ADI’s LA office and they’ll be shipped to Peru.
6100 Wilshire Boulevard, #1150
Los Angeles, CA 90048
Written by: Ines Romero of Cecil’s Angels.