It is with a truly heavy heart that we announce that our beloved ex-circus lioness from Peru, Muñeca, has passed away at 19 years of age, after 8 years in ADI care.
Muñeca seemed unwell for a few days and Leo was spending time next to her, appearing to comfort her. After examination and tests, Dr Peter Caldwell advised that our sweet matriarch had a tumour on her lung, cysts in her liver, gall bladder problems, a low red cell count and poor bone marrow results. The recommendation was that it was kinder to let her go peacefully to sleep. Old age and her suffering in the circus had finally caught up with her.
While we are heartbroken and doing everything that we can to give her beloved Leo treats and extra attention, we should also celebrate what you made possible for this grand lioness – the matriarch of the ADI Wildlife Sanctuary. She left a tiny circus cage in Peru to enjoy her final years living as a lioness should, home in Africa. Thanks to you, our supporters.
Please look through the pictures at a life so very different to how it began.
In August 2014, the first day of ADI’s Operation Spirit of Freedom, to enforce Peru’s ban on animals in circuses, we raided with police and wildlife officials a circus just north of capital Lima. We knew it would be difficult. This was anticipated to be the most aggressive circus in the country and wildlife officials told us the owner had previously let a lion loose when they went to confiscate an animal, forcing them to leave.
It took many hours, but we succeeded in taking Leo, and sons Rolex, Chino and Coco. But a circus lawyer blocked the seizure part way through, leaving Muñeca, Africa and Kiara with the circus. We would have to go back for them. They went into hiding the next day.
Months later, we caught up with them, hundreds of miles away, on the border with Ecuador. As we moved in the circus made a run for it. With the police, we chased them through the desert, finally cornering them in small village. The girls and two monkeys were saved.
We reunited the family in our Temporary Rescue Centre and then flew them to a new life in South Africa.
At the ADI Wildlife Sanctuary, they have enjoyed the kind of peace and freedom they could never have imagined in the circus. The elderly couple have been regarded as great explorers, popping up all over Abbey Habitat.
Please send your love to Leo, who is now alone (although his habitat is next door to Rolex, Africa and Kiara). He is getting extra attention and treats and we are keeping a close eye on him as he adjusts to the loss of his dear Muñeca.