New Animal Planet series to feature epic ADI rescue in Peru

Animal Planet’s new Dodo Heroes series, premiering on June 9, will include an episode devoted to an epic rescue undertaken by Animal Defenders International (ADI) in South America – screening on June 30. It features the transformation of lonely spider monkey Pepe and the battle to save and reunite a lion family torn apart by a circus.

After Peru bans wild animals in circuses, many circuses defy the law and ADI is invited to help the authorities enforce the law and save the animals. Operation Spirit of Freedom is born and a team headed up by ADI Vice President Tim Phillips and ADI President Jan Creamer get to work.

Using previously unseen footage shot as the mission unfolded, the episode will take people to the heart of the biggest circus rescue ever undertaken.  Circuses are tracked down and dramatically raided, and over 100 animals saved – lions, bears, a tiger, monkeys, and more.  We also see the painstaking efforts to piece the lives of these animals back together.

The star of the episode is a spider monkey called Pepe, whose incredible character shines through as he is cut from his chains after 8 years alone.  He undergoes emergency dental surgery after the circus snapped off his teeth, is reunited with his own kind, and finally goes home to the Amazon forest.  We also see the emotional reunion of a lioness and her cubs after the family were torn apart by the circus, and their journey home to Africa with ADI.

Phillips says: “This is a joyous and uplifting story about giving animals from circuses, who have endured so much, their lives back. We see what it means for animals to be reunited with their own kind, how the damage done by their captors can be repaired, and how when they are given space, they burst into life. It tells an important story about the treatment of animals but will also leave people smiling.”

Creamer notes: “This episode shows these intelligent, emotional animals and their desire to live their lives to the fullest by not being used and abused in a circus lifestyle. This explains how humans need to change our relationship with the other species who share our planet – for our own sake, as well as theirs.”

Animal Planet’s Executive Producer Keith Hoffman adds: “Dodo Heroes features compelling and moving stories about animals in need and the incredible people, like Jan and Tim, who go to great lengths to help them.”

ADI is the only organization in the world undertaking these difficult and dangerous, large-scale rescues helping governments to enforce bans on the use of animals around the world.  To date ADI has emptied Bolivia and Peru of ALL circus animals, and is currently in Guatemala helping to enforce the circus ban there.

Temporary facilities have to be built in the different countries to receive the animals and it can take months to track down and raid circuses, followed by the huge logistical challenges of relocating dozens of different species (ADI airlifted 33 rescued lions home to Africa from Peru and Colombia).

ADI continues to fund the care of the animals seen rescued in the Dodo Heroes episode, and any donations received as a result of it will support those animals and the animals currently being saved in Guatemala.

An afternoon/evening rescuing monkeys and lions: the ‘Dodo Heroes’ themselves, Jan Creamer and Tim Phillips, will be appearing at a series of special events at intimate venues in the UK and US. In addition to a Q&A, they will report on the latest rescues and host a screening of the episode. Don’t miss your chance to spend time with ADI!

June 22: London, UK: Karamel Restaurant –

June 27: Durham, NC: Full Frame Theater –

June 28: New York City: Magno Screening Room –

June 30: Los Angeles: 5757 Wilshire Boulevard –

July 8: Sedona, AZ: Mary D. Fisher Theatre –

Dates in other cities to be confirmed

Tickets will be limited and people are urged to book early and take advantage of the special early bird rate. Find out more here:

All funds raised will go towards the care of ADI’s rescued animals like Pepe and to help ADI save more lives.

Please help with a donation here:

The 42-minute show from Dodo Heroes is produced in association with Tacoma, WA-based Nomadica Films.


Sign-up here to receive the latest news about Lion Ark straight to your inbox