KEENESBURG, Colo. (CBS4) – Lions from Bolivia are now calling Colorado home.

They began their journey Wednesday in South America and ended the day in Colorado.

Related Photo Gallery: Lions Arrive

Game show host Bob Barker financed the lions’ rescue from the Bolivian circuses.

Many of the lions had been mistreated or neglected. All of them were raised in captivity in deplorable conditions. They didn’t even have enough to eat.

“We had another circus that we went into where they had a cage the size of two double beds. They had eight lions in there, eight full grown lions. They were all starving. They were fighting for food,” Tim Phillips with Animal Defenders International said.

Bolivia just recently banned animal circuses. Phillips said he hopes the banning of animal circuses will spread to other countries.

“So we went with the Bolivian authorities. We seized every single circus animal that was in an operating circus,” Phillips said.

The 25 lions will live out the rest of their lives at the Wildlife Sanctuary in Keenesburg. The lions began their stay at the sanctuary in an artificial environment. The environment is a comprised of a large tent complete with fresh sod and pine trees for the animals to enjoy.

The lions will acclimate to the cooler Colorado weather by staying in the indoor closure for awhile. When things warm up, they have an 80 acre plot outside where they will be able to live out the rest of their lives.

Barker and CSI star Jorja Fox are both members of Animal Defenders International. Both were on hand at Denver International Airport for the lions’ arrival.

Comments (12)
  1. nycnyc says:

    Kudos to Bolivia and President Evo Morales, Pat Craig and the activists who achieved this feat. Bolivia becomes the first civilized nation in the world to ban animal circuses.

  2. Kathy Mcwhite says:

    Puts my heart in my throat and brings tears to my eyes, what a fantastic new beginning for these magnificent animals. KUDOS to each and everyone who had a hand in this!!!

  3. Rod Adkisson says:

    Cool!, I love happy endings!

    1. Rod Adkisson says:

      I follow Craig and the Wild Animal Sanctuary on twitter;-)

  4. So glad these guys are getting a good home. Enjoy your retirement!

  5. Ruth Pelton-Roby says:

    Mik, I suggest you visit the wildlife refuge in Keenesburg. It is huge – you view the lions through binoculars. It is certainly the best option for animals that cannot be reintroduced to the wild.

  6. CT says:

    Obviously they can’t survive in the wild, so 80 acres to play and live, and never again having the stress of competing for food / reproduction / circus performance sounds like freedom to me! Way to go ADI!

  7. Joe says: are an idiot…next!

    Great job folks! I wish the former owners could be treated the way these poor animals have been treated…see how they like it!

  8. Mik says:

    FREEDOM? They went from being starved in cages / to being fed in cages… Doesnt quite sound FREE to me… You guys do a good job about being the ”LIAR KINGS”

    1. none ya says:

      You obviously know nothing about rehabilitation of animals Mik- they could never be set free as they dont have the skills to live “free” as you say. They would also become a threat humans if they were set free as you imply you want.. I commend these people for helping animals that should never have been captive have some normalicy in their lives

    2. Susan says:

      Mik, have you ever even BEEN to the sanctuary??? You don’t know what you’re talking about. There are hundreds of acres of enormous enclosures where the animals are free to wander and play. This is the best rescue sanctuary in the country as far as I’m concerned, and obviously ADI thinks so too or they would not have chosen it as the new home for these abused lions.

    3. Sue Averill says:

      obviously you haven’t visited this wonderful sanctuary!! I don’t know what they do, but those beautiful animals are so calm and at peace. I think it is a wonderful spot to have those beautiful creatures live out their lives!!

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