ADI Wildlife Sanctuary: Reflecting on an incredible first year

August last year, we purchased 455 acres of land and buildings in South Africa. It was just a beautiful, blank canvas, and we knew turning it into an animal sanctuary would be a monumental task. One year ago this week, we were rolling up our sleeves and taking on that task and today, our ADI Wildlife Sanctuary (ADIWS) awakes each day, to the roars of our rescued lions, freed from suffering.

Some thought the building work would take years, but we knew the animals did not have years to wait, and by Christmas we had our permit to home rescued lions, cheetahs, leopards, and a month later to also care for rescued tigers, jaguars, pumas and hyenas. It has been a staggering year of progress, all thanks to supporters like you.

In March, our 27 lions rescued from circuses in Peru and Colombia arrived and, with your help, we can maintain our rate of progress.

By the end of the year, with the Guatemala rescue, we will have 44 lions and tigers in our care at ADIWS.

There is still much to do, but here’s what we have completed in our first year:

HIGH SECURITY FENCING: The sanctuary is encircled with miles of double electric fences with an exposed no-mans-land between, and patrolled by armed security.

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Our first task was to secure the entire sanctuary with double high-security, electrified fencing. This is patrolled by armed security guards.

LION HABITAT CONSTRUCTION: Our huge, natural lion habitats range from 2.5 to 7.5 acres. By the end of the year, our lion and tiger habitats will cover over a million square feet.

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ADI President Jan Creamer measuring out the sanctuary’s first lion habitats. Today, this is Leo and Muneca’s home.

ENVIRONMENTAL COMMITMENT:  All our new fences and motorized gate are solar powered. We are self-sufficient in water with solar pumps, and have installed a series of tanks fed by different wells for water to be piped throughout the sanctuary for the animal and human residents. We have planted dozens of trees to reclaim areas previously used for agriculture.

ANIMAL CARE: Our animal care team members all have lion sanctuary experience; we installed a large walk in food freezer, cooler and made a food and medication preparation area (to be used until the development of the new Animal Care Center). We have an ADI resident veterinarian monitoring the animals on a daily basis. At present we have just one vehicle (a second is needed urgently) and have the basics in terms of tools and equipment for repairs and maintenance – drills, hammers, shovels, knives, weight scales, etc.

FIRE-FIGHTERS (two power versions) to extinguish any wildfires that might threaten our animals. These have already seen action, putting out fires on other properties in the area.

LION HOUSES: Eight lion houses have been built, four of these have underfloor heating for elderly lions. Not all internal walls have been completed yet, but all are in use. Three old farm buildings and a large concrete water reservoir have also been converted into lion dens.

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Rey, a 12-year-old lion from Ayacucho, Peru, who lived most of his life in a bare circus cage, today enjoys the comfort of a heated floor in his house.

What’s next for the ADI Wildlife Sanctuary?

Our most urgent task is to be ready for the 18 lions and tigers we have removed from circuses in Guatemala. It is a matter of urgency to get these animals out of that country, as the rescue itself has been under attack. We thwarted an attempt by a reptile park, Antigua Exotic (where the government had insisted we build our Temporary Rescue Center), to block ADI access to the animals and take control of them. We have now moved to a new location for our Temporary Rescue Center, but attempts by the reptile park and circuses to disrupt and discredit the rescue continue.

There is little we can do to accelerate the issuing of import and export permits, but what we can do, with your continued support, is complete all of the preparations for these animals at the ADI Wildlife Sanctuary. We need your help to complete the lion and tiger homes.

An unexpected new resident we will welcome this month is Kesari, a young male African lion with nowhere to go. When we sought permission for the Sanctuary, we discussed with officials that part of our work in South Africa would be to assist them, support enforcement of animal protection laws and stamp out canned hunting and lion farming.

Our Founders List is still open – anyone giving a donation of $10,000 will be added to the list of Founders to be permanently displayed at the sanctuary. It is also still possible to sponsor a habitat in a name of your choosing, for $20,000. Find more details here.

Can You Adopt a Lion or Tiger? We are seeking adopters for all of the lions and tigers in our care. We are making a lifetime commitment of care. If you can adopt one of our residents, it is a great way of supporting their lifetime feeding and veterinary care.

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Kiara and Amazonas relaxing in the sunshine at the ADI Wildlife Sanctuary

Thank you so much for being on our team. Together, we are ending the suffering of animals in circuses, and rescuing animals once a ban is passed. We are providing governments with successful legislation and solutions to their animal after care problems. We could not have done this without you.

Together, we have created a unique place of loving kindness, a beacon of hope where there was none. Please give what you can today to help us prepare for Kesari and the lions and tigers waiting in Guatemala. We will ensure that your support will work as hard for the animals as it has in the last 12 months. PLEASE DONATE HERE.

Our vision is a sanctuary responding to the critical frontline battles for animal protection (as we are doing in Guatemala), educating and creating awareness, and operating environmentally friendly, ethical policies.

We hope you can continue to be part of that vision with us.

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