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LION ARK: BACKGROUND

The shocking findings of an undercover investigation by Animal Defenders International (ADI) led to a ban on animal circuses in Bolivia – law 40/40.  This film tells the story of how the team that secured the evidence and the ban, returned to rescue every single circus animal.

Set in the breath-taking scenery of Bolivia, the film records a frontline animal rescue in  a country with limited resources.  Bolivia is about one and half times the size of Texas, with a population of 10 million and very limited resources.  The ADI team find themselves confronted with treacherous mountain passes to transport animals through.

Light aircraft zip across vast reaches of jungle to take the rescuers to the remote corners of Bolivia; a veteran Hercules (from the Vietnam war) is chartered to pick up one old lion near the Argentinian border; and trucks carrying lions kick up dust as they drive into the sunset.

The team pursues the circuses through the mountains, are threatened by knife-wielding circus owners, rescue starving and sick animals, risk life and limb with angry lions as their rusting cages fall apart, and have animals dying in their arms.

25 lions, ranging from tiny six week old cubs to gnarled old males, are nursed back to health in ADI’s MASH-style field station near Santa Cruz.  Monkeys, horses and other animals are saved along the way, with some returning to the wild in Bolivia.

Preparations are made to take the lions in a flying Lion Ark on a 3,000 mile journey of a lifetime to a huge state-of-the-art, 80-acre facility being constructed in Colorado.

It is a film of soaring highs as animals are saved and crushing sadness as the team battle unsuccessfully to save dying animals.

It is also about how the Bolivian people got behind this rescue including politicians, young idealists, metal workers, and even saw people cheering in the streets as one old lion headed to a new home after a lifetime of loneliness.

The film culminates in the massive Lion Ark airlift of the 25 lions to The Wild Animal Sanctuary, Denver, Colorado – the biggest airlift of its kind ever – to be released into the largest lion enclosures in the world.  But the team faces a race against time to ensure the animals are fit enough to travel, to get legal clearances, build crates, battle through the monsoon conditions of the Bolivian rainy season, and the terrible fear that not all the lions will be fit enough to survive the 3,000 mile journey.

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