Last updated on October 24, 2017
A mountain lion that lived two decades in chains has been returned to the wild.
Mufasa the mountain lion was part of a traveling circus that kept him chained in the back of a pick-up truck amid piles of rusty circus equipment. He traveled chained for 20 years as his captures, who knew it was illegal to have him, evaded the law by moving between remote villages.
The rescue group said they received a tip that a circus was operating illegally with wild animals in an isolated village in northern Peru.
Peru banned animals from being used in circuses and it’s believed Mufasa was the last mountain lion in a South American circus. He was freed from his chains when Animal Defenders International and Peruvian wildlife officials raided the circus. In an 8-hour standoff with the circus, law enforcement officials were finally given Mufasa. They also confiscated a condor.
The elderly cat sat still as his bindings were cut away.
He was taken to a wildlife rescue camp near Lima for three months before finally being released back into the Peruvian forest.
After rehabilitation, he made a 3-day journey by land and water to the edge of the Tambopata Reserve in the Amazon rainforest, where rescuers say, he will spend the rest of his days.
Jan Creamer, president of Animal Defenders International says,“It is magical to see him moving about in and out of the trees in his own piece of protected forest.”
“Mufasa’s story symbolizes the suffering we have ended. He was kept for years in chains in a truck, sleeping on metal, barely able to move. An unbearable torture. Now, in his twilight years, I hope people will help us give him back the life the circus stole from him,” he added.
Almost 100 animals in similar situations to Mufasa have been rescued and refomed as part of Operation Spirit of Freedom.