An old mountain lion finally got a taste of freedom after spending his life chained to the back of a truck
Rescued from an illegal Peruvian circus, Mufasa the mountain lion was likely sold in the illegal exotic pet trade as a youth.
He spent 20 years being moved from village to village and forced to perform with the circus.
When he wasn’t being forced to perform, he was chained and locked up in the back of a truck.
“It was heartbreaking to see Mufasa chained among the circus equipment, living on the back of a pickup truck,” said Jan Creamer the president of Animal Defenders International (ADI).
“A heavy harness and chains were wrapped around his body and as we cut them away, he stretched, free, for the first time.”
She described the scene as “the most sad, wretched thing that you’ve ever seen,” noting that “it was like he wasn’t even alive.”
Thankfully though, he was rescued by the ADI’s Operation Spirit of Freedom, a crackdown on illegal circuses.
This was following Peru’s ban on performing circus animals back in 2015. It took an eight-hour standoff with the owners before he could be rescued.
He was significantly underweight when found and was ‘quite nervous’ as he appeared to be afraid of his rescuers.
ADI helped him heal at their rescue center, “His appetite and coat condition have improved after receiving specialist veterinary treatment.”
Once recovered, he was transferred to the Taricaya Ecological Reserve so he could live in a special enclosure in the Amazon rainforest.
Mufasa couldn’t be released into the wild as he would not survive, now he gets to live out his day in a place as close to his natural life as possible.
Here are photos showing him take his first cautious steps out in his new home where no one can hurt him.
“Mufasa was torn from the wild and has endured the worst possible life,” said Creamer, “[His] story symbolizes the suffering we have ended.”
“It is magical to see him moving about in and out of the trees in his own piece of protected forest,” Creamer said.
Mufasa was one of 100 animals rescued by ADI, who will continue their work to free illegal circus animals.