Earlier this year, in a massive raid on circuses in Peru and Columbia, 33 lions were rescued from a life of captivity and flown to South Africa where they would live out their days in the freedom of a natural habitat.
In the largest airlift of lions ever attempted, these beautiful beasts were flown to a private sanctuary in Limpopo, which is north of Johannesburg.
Sadly, some of the lions suffered terribly during their time in captivity. They lived in small cages on the backs of trucks, where they were beaten and starved. Some had been de-clawed, some had broken or rotting teeth and one was even missing an eye.
The Los Angeles-based Animal Defenders International organized and paid for their freedom. These beautiful, big cats now have about 5000-Hectares of protected property all to themselves.
The lions were given check-ups by vets before boarding the plane for their big flight home.
Rescuers carefully transport lions away from the circus.
Waiting to go home!
Watch this uplifting video of the lions experiencing freedom for the first time:
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