Farewell to a giant: OJ

We have heart-breaking news – our dear lion OJ, one of our circus survivors from Colombia, has lost his battle against cancer. We had hoped he would get longer in the sun with his lifelong friend Iron, but it was not to be.  

At the start of December, 15-year old OJ was diagnosed with an aggressive and incurable leukemia.  With ADIWS veterinarian, Dr Peter Caldwell, we settled on treatment which would give him a good quality of life for a few months and if he was lucky, could give him years. Following treatment, our elderly warrior rallied and tests showed the cancer was retreating. He came home to the sanctuary for Christmas and continued his daily chemotherapy. 

For five wonderful weeks, OJ seemed to be winning. Then, one day he would not eat and refused his medication. He was taken to hospital. Tests confirmed the worst – the cancer had returned with a vengeance and invaded his organs, OJ would always be in pain, all hope for recovery was gone. It was time to say goodbye. 

We are pleased that OJ got a few more precious weeks of freedom, after so much suffering in the circus. 

We first met OJ (Ojiclaro) when ADI investigators took his picture in the circus cage, along with Iron. This picture sums up the despair and misery of circus life for animals. For the first 8 years of their lives, they had lived in constant fear of beatings, on scraps of food, on bare boards and bars. No hope, no relief from fear and stress until ADI rescued them in 2014.

Proud and defiant, OJ’s warrior spirit appeared as he found freedom. He loved to roar at sunset and was always ready to defend his territory. He was known for escorting people away from his territory when he decided it was time for them to leave, he would stand and watch until they were out of sight and then return to lie down with Iron. 

Farewell, OJ.

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