Animal Defenders International Fundraiser - Sending Lions Back To Africa

Animal Defenders International (ADI) leaders Jan Creamer and Tim Phillips have recently returned from over a year in Peru, where, as in neighboring Bolivia, they helped pass animal protection legislation to ban wild animals in entertainment. In Bolivia the law banned all animals, domestic and wild in circuses, and in Peru, the ban was for wild animals in circuses. After the laws were in place and at the request of the governments, they returned to the countries to help enforce the law and round up every wild animal stuck in every rotten cage in every rural and forgotten hideout in the far reaches of the country. This often entailed endangering their lives in grueling confrontations with tough circus folks, rushing big trucks around on narrow roads in the Andes Mountains, and dealing up close and personal with severely abused and angry lions.


Jam Creamer with Pepe

Once rescued, the ADI team brings the animals back to a temporary holding area they created, where the animals can start to be nourished and watered properly, receive medical attention, more space, environmental enrichment---and kindness they have never known. Then ADI takes on the task of finding the best possible natural sanctuary for the animals.  They have been 100% successful in their rescue work. Their leadership and advocacy has prompted 32 countries globally to create similar bans.


at the recent LA screening of LION ARK, Jan Creamer and Tim Phillips with a picture of Cholita

The screening/fundraiser for ADI’s work is highlighted in their multi award winning film Lion Ark, directed by Tim Phillips, which documents the first big rescue operation in Bolivia, the first country to pass humane laws against animals in entertainment in South America.  Thrilling and inspiring, it is the story of Jan and Tim heading up a team who shows up on the doorstep of small circus owners. (Please see previous LASplash article about the film.)


Jan Creamer and Tim Philips in Peru

It is quite rousing and phenomenally inspiring not only to animal rights, but also women’s rights to see the petite Creamer impose herself in the middle of quarreling and angry men with her prim British voice yelling, “Get that boy!  This is not a committee.”  And people make way to her power.


Mufasa's chains are cut

Another interesting element of the film is Jan’s voiceover in which she puts the actions in perspective.  She mentions that for her it all started one day in London when someone handed her a paper telling how 12 dogs were being used to test tobacco.  Something in her stood at attention and knew that was wrong and she must help. That led to deep involvement in the anti-vivisection movement in Europe where she became an undercover investigator and a leader. 


ADI team at work

She eventually met her husband Tim in the movement and they founded Animal Defenders International.  She has transferred her experience and success in undercover and animal labs to animals in entertainment.

ADI begins with good undercover work. Once the incriminating tapes are in their hands, they know how to get them to the right authorities and begin the fight for saving animals lives.

 When you witness Jan and Tim closing down a whole industry in these two countries, you can’t help but being awestruck and filled with hope at what one or two determined people can accomplish.


Joseph finally looked after

In Operation Lion Ark, Bob Barker is interviewed. He has been a big moral and financial supporter.  “We live in the dark ages. One day people will look back on the way we treat animals and they won’t believe it.  We’re in it right now but we’re working our way out.”


Valerie dreaming of a better life

In Bolivia the work was mostly centered on lions although there were also some monkeys and a few others species.  In Peru there were bears, a macaw, a tortoise, 24 lions (plus nine from Colombia), a tiger and many other native monkeys and mammals.  Some of them now have new homes in the rainforest. The tiger, Hoover, is going to Big Cat Rescue in Florida. And the lions will fly back to Africa to Emoya Big Cat Sanctuary in South Africa where they will live the rest of their lives in their homeland with space and dignity and with their families.

We were treated to sizzle reels and promotions, which highlight elements of the Peruvian rescue operation, now being called Operation Spirit of Freedom. More excitement, great animal stories and scary confrontations will spread the word to millions of more people.


Cage being lowered for rescue

Peru is the story of two years of work and 108 animals.  Touching stories of animals like Cholita an endangered Spectacled bear who was maimed and lost all her hair from stress, never enjoyed a day of freedom, and who, thanks to ADI now has her own rainforest enclosure at Taricaya Ecological Reserve. The sanctuary is located on the edge of the Tambopata reserve in the Amazon Cloud Forest, the natural habitat for spectacled bears, where she resides with three other spectacled bears nearby which ADI also rescued.


Rapunzel anxious before rescueRe

Almost all the animals have been returned to their natural habitats in the rain forest, some with helping sanctuary conditions, and many on their way to lives of complete freedom. Thirty-nine spider monkeys, owl monkeys, squirrel, woolly and black and white capuchin monkeys, kinkajous (honey bears) and coati mundis from circuses and the illegal wildlife trade across Peru were homed at the Pilpintuwasi Wildlife Orphanage in the Amazon jungle in Peru.


Rey still in Circo Monaco cramped, filthy, falling apart box

The thirty-three lions rescued must leave the country as there are no appropriate sanctuaries for lions in Peru.  Jan and Tim have uncovered the wonderful Emoya Big Cat Sanctuary in South Africa which will be their new home.  Costs for housing and feeding the animals and the transportation of the lions is staggering -- $20,000 per month to care for the lions in Peru right now, and $300,000 for a special chartered flight to their forever home. ADI, which now has offices in London, Los Angeles and Bogota, has many big and small donors. Jan stressed that multitude of small donations add up. A secure donation for helping the lions can easily be made online.


Jan helps waters the thirsty

Among their many projects, ADI is developing a new coding for films, RAP or Responsible Animal Policy.  This will grow to be a coveted brand and given only to films that use CGI for animals. If animals are in any way involved they must be treated like the emotional, intelligent beings they are, both on and off set because their investigations reveal the inherent abuse of animals used for entertainment is always hidden behind the scenes.

Due to the work of ADI, not only are many individual animals being saved, but the awareness of their suffering is raising consciousness, and changing hearts and minds of human beings. People worldwide are acknowledging that the suffering these animals go through is not worth the price for human entertainment.



Georja Umano is an actress and animal advocate.

With special thanks to Matt Rossell, Campaigns Manager LA, ADI

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