Mufasa, a 20-year-old mountain lion who spent his life chained in the back of a pickup truck, has been freed and returned to the rainforest.
Mufasa was captured as a cub and lived in cruel captivity as part of a squalid roadside circus in Peru.
After Peru banned wild animals in circuses in 2011, most circuses defied the law. One by one Animal Defenders International (ADI) tracked them down and removed the animals.
When ADI got a tip that a circus was still operating illegally in a remote area of northern Peru they set out on a mission to rescue the big cat.
Police and wildlife officers accompanied them, which was necessary because the rescuers met with resistance.
Finally, in a dramatic stand-off that lasted 8 hours, during which riot police were called, the last circus was cornered and Mufasa was handed over.
The heavy harness and shackles that were wrapped around his body for so many years were finally broken. Mufassa would be the last wild animal in a Peruvian circus to be freed!
ADI brought Mufassa to their rescue centre where he was nursed back to health for several months before being transported to his new home on a nature reserve in the Amazon rainforest.
Watch Mufassa’s journey from chains to his return to the forest in the video below.
Now in his twilight years Mufasa is surrounded by trees and forest where he can spend the rest of his days in peace and tranquility!
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A small update on Mufassa. He passed away in 2015 a short time after his rescue and release at the sanctuary/nature reserve. ADI wrote: “Sadly, Mufasa passed away after a few months of freedom in December 2015. His life in the circus, chained to the back of a pick-up truck, had damaged his health and he was suffering with kidney failure and other age-related problems. We are so sad he did not enjoy more time in his forest habitat, but the real tragedy would have been if he had never experienced that freedom at all.”