First group of lions and tigers rescued by AAP
Laid-off circus lion Reza sat 13 years locked up and lonely in a truck
Almere – Stichting AAP has for the first time rescued a group of lions and tigers. Lion Reza, as well as another lion and two tigers, sat locked away for almost 13 years in separate trucks along the roadside. Laid off as a circus artist, Reza was forced to while away his days in far too small a space with no distraction whatsosever. Meanwhile, Reza and the three other animals have arrived in the brand-new spacious lion and tiger shelter at Primadomus, AAP's Spanish subsidiary. A shelter that has now become reality thanks to our loyal donors and the support of participants of the National Postcode Lottery, and a shelter that was sorely needed. Here the animals can recover again and finally enjoy their old age in peace and calm.
When only a cub of two months old, Reza was purchased by the owner of a French circus. Together with another lion and two tigers he had to make a living by working in the circus. Jumping through a hoop, walking along a beam and rolling over ... After a protracted period of arduous training Reza eventually did what was demanded of him, but that did not generate extra audience or revenues for the circus. On top of that it soon turned out that the second lion and also one of the tigers was too aggressive to be trained. They were immediately locked away in their cages. When the circus had to shut down due to lack of funds Reza also disappeared behind bars for good.
For almost thirteen years Reza sat in an old truck by a roadside in France. David van Gennep, director of Stichting AAP: "I'll never forget the sight of Reza lying listlessly there in that frigid cage. 'The king of animals' just lay there, his head pressed against the bars. He looked out at the world as if he thought his fate was sealed. Just because his owner hoped that his brother or his children would one day start a circus again."
This sad situation changed when the French authorities got wind of it. The circus director was given the opportunity to improve the cages of the four animals and to ensure that they would become healthy again. But time and time again the owner failed to do anything about it and eventually enough was enough, fortunately! Reza and his fellow sufferers were confiscated.
The French authorities made contact with AAP and as soon as the new shelter for lions and tigers was ready AAP sprang into action. Finally Reza, lioness Aya, tiger Kai and tigress Radja were rescued from their miserable trucks, the first step towards their new future. David van Gennep: "We did not come a moment too soon, for Reza's, Aya's, Radja's and particularly Kai's condition turned out to be be a lot worse than we were led to believe. Their rescue was therefore rather exciting and not exactly easy."
All four animals have meanwhile arrived at their new home. The first thirty days Reza and the others will remain in a special care unit (a kind of quarantine) to see what their condition is, both physically and mentally. After that they will move to their enormous outdoor enclosure where they can take their time learning to be a lion and a tiger again. For instance, due to his weakened muscles Reza is unable to just run around or jump onto a platform. But also lions are never too old to learn and we are confident that after a while Reza and the other animals will again be able to climb and clamber, take a bath in a water pool or just lie dozing lazily in the sun. Things that they have always been deprived of until now.
Watch the rescue video:
Watch the updates made during the first two weeks at AAP Primadomus: