Three tiny lion cubs saved from an animal circus in Bolivia by Animal Defenders International (ADI) have been named after three people who helped make the rescue possible.

The cubs, two males and a female, now named Percy, Bob and Nancy will be part of a huge airlift of 25 rescued lions.

Bob is named after the famous Price is Right host Bob Barker and Nancy after Nancy Burnet, Director of United Activists for Animal Rights, who works closely with Mr. Barker. Bob Barker made a substantial donation to ADI which has enabled the organization to undertake a huge rescue operation in Bolivia, emptying all the circuses of animals following a national ban on the use of animals in travelling circuses.

Percy is named after the Mayor of Santa Cruz, Percy Fernández, who loaned ADI land for the temporary enclosure where the lions are currently living before they are moved to the U.S. in February to The Wild Animal Sanctuary located in Colorado.

Jan Creamer, ADI President who is overseeing the rescue operation in Bolivia said: “We think this is a fitting tribute to three people who selflessly stepped up to help us save these animals. Mayor Percy Fernandez provided the land on which we are currently caring for 24 lions, including these cubs, before we can move them to the USA. Bob Barker’s generosity has made this huge rescue mission possible, and indeed he has already enabled us to save four circus lions and a baboon from Bolivia. It is hard to imagine contemplating a rescue of this size without his kindness. These cubs owe their lives to Bob, Nancy and Percy, it is fitting that they take their names.”

“What ADI has achieved in South America is a landmark accomplishment that will have worldwide repercussions. Nancy and I are pleased and proud to have shared in this historical victory on behalf of suffering animals exploited for man’s amusement,” said Bob Barker.

An ADI undercover investigation of the South American circus industry led to a ban on the use of all animals in circuses in Bolivia, which came into force in 2010.

In May 2010 four lions and a baboon were relocated to a sanctuary in California, after they were voluntarily handed over by a circus which was going animal-free. The animals were moved by ADI to ARK2000 in California and the baboon to a Primate Sanctuary in the U.K. ADI will fund the care of all of these animals for the remainder of their lives.

In late 2010, working with the Bolivian authorities, ADI seized all of the animals from the eight remaining animal circuses spread all over Bolivia, rescuing 24 lions, 6 monkeys, a coati mundi, a deer and horse. In lightning operations the team seized animals from seven circuses in seven days, before catching up with the final circus in a remote area of Bolivia three weeks later. These will be followed by a final rescue of a male lion in early February, making the total 25. The operation removed every circus animal, ending the animal circus industry at a stroke – the first time this had ever happened.

The tiny cubs were just seven weeks old when they were seized. They were living in a small bare cage with their mother and were being dragged out through a food hatch – while circus workers cruelly surrounded the mother and panicked her to protect each cub – so that they could be taken into the circus ring and around local parks for photographs with customers.

Jan Creamer said: “These were the last animals to appear in a Bolivian circus show. I vividly remember the day we seized them, tiny bundles of fur, their eyes still slightly blue. I remember thinking that they had been born into misery but they will grow up happy and free. They symbolize everything we work for.”

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