Mufasa the mountain lion was just a baby when he was torn from the wild to be bought and sold on the exotic pet trade. As a result, he has spent the last 20-years of his life chained to the back of an illegal Peruvian circus truck, as he was carted from town to town and forced to perform.
While living with an illegal traveling circus, Mufasa didn’t have any sort of normal environment to call home. When he wasn’t performing he lived on the back of an old truck bed, where he would curl up and sleep behind the tent poles and other circus supplies.
Thankfully, the Animal Defenders International (ADI) stepped up to save the poor cat as part of their Operation Spirit of Freedom, a mission to stop illegal circuses that commonly abuse all types of animals. Jan Creamer, the president of ADI said, “It was heartbreaking to see Mufasa chained among the circus equipment, living on the back of a pickup truck.”
Mufasa was chained up with a heavy harness wrapped around his entire body. Members of ADI are no strangers to sad sights, but Creamer described it as one of the saddest sights you could ever see, adding, “It was like he wasn’t even alive.”
ADI partook in an 8-hour standoff with the mountain lion’s owners before they were finally able to set him free.
At 20-years-old the lion was weak, vastly underweight, nervous and afraid of humans. ADI has already reported improvements in his coat and appetite since being seen and treated by veterinary specialists in Lima, Peru.
Mufasa is now living at Taricaya Ecological Reserve, a special enclosure located in the Amazon Rainforest. After living on the back of a truck in chains for 20-years, it wouldn’t be fair to release Mufasa out into the wild, as he wouldn’t be properly prepared to take care of and protect himself. The lush ecological reserve Mufasa gets to call his forever home is the next best thing.
Mufasa is one of many poorly treated circus animals rescued by ADI, including birds, monkeys, lions, bears and a tiger. ADI isn’t done yet; they remain busy rescuing as many circus animals as possible. You can help contribute to their worthy cause by making a donation here.
Watch Mufasa take his first unchained steps of freedom in this heartwarming video: