Bob Barker aids in rescue of abused Bolivian circus cats

Posted Feb 17, 2011 by Vincent Sobotka
"Come on Down!" The famous catch phrase coined by the former game-show-host, also a long time vegetarian and animal rights activist, greeted 25 lions as they stepped onto American soil, the last of the animals to be rescued from Bolivian circus acts.
The  Lion House  at the Wild Animal Sanctuary where the 25 lions rescued from Bolivia will recover u...
The "Lion House" at the Wild Animal Sanctuary where the 25 lions rescued from Bolivia will recover until spring.
The Wild Animal Santuary non-profit organization
On February 16, a cargo plane carrying 25 lions, three of which were cubs,departed the big cats from a life of cruelty to a sanctuary destination.
A law was passed in 2010 prohibiting Bolivia from including animals in any performances, including circus acts, following an investigation by the anti-cruelty to animals organization Animal Defenders International (ADI). The investigation revealed footage of circus employees abusing animals involved in their act and detaining them under inhumane conditions.
A donation of $2 million made by Bob Barker, former host of the popular day-time television game show The Price Is Right, and several other donors helped fund ADI's rescue mission. The mission successfully tracked seven traveling circus acts across Bolivia and seized their animals within the first seven days. During this week-long period ADI rescued 24 lions, 6 monkeys, a coati mundi, a deer and a horse.
Three weeks later the final rescue effort seized a single male lion, totaling 25 lions rescued by ADI. In regards to the search and rescue mission that effectively shut down animal acts in the Bolivian circus industry, the organization nicknamed the effort "Operation Lion Ark."
The Wild Animal Sanctuary, located in Keenesburg, CO, about 35-miles East of Colorado, accepted the 25 lions yesterday. A crew employed by the habitat organization worked around-the-clock to construct a 15,000 square-foot temperature controlled indoor facility to house the lions so they are not exposed to the cold winter climate. The cats were malnurished and dehydrated from their poor treatment in Bolivia upon their arrival, but The Wild Animal Sanctuary is quite the showcase for animals in need of rehabilitation. The 320-acre facility, which is continuously expanding with additional acres in development, is the oldest and largest nonprofit Sanctuary in the United States and is dedicated exclusively to the rescue of exotic, large carnivores. The lions will spend the next two-months inside the facility while they recover and wait for the climate to warm, then they will be free to roam approximately 80-acres of the sanctuary, dedicated to the lions. The Wild Animal Sanctuary has already rescued and provided a home for 270 wild animals.
According to ABC News, Barker was present yesterday at Denver International Airport for the arrival of the lions. As the first lion was removed from the plane, he cheerfully bellowed a mimic of his contestant introduction during his years as a game show host, "Lion number one, come on down!" Also present with Barker was CSI actress Jorja Fox.
Of the 25 lions, there are 14 males and 11 females. The lions were given a sleep-aid prior to the departure from Santa Cruz, Bolivia. Each lion traveled in its own cage, with the except of the three cubs which traveled with their mother. At Denver International Airport, armed police officers monitored the unloading of the cages onto a hangar, which was then trucked to the sanctuary.
In regards to the cubs, Barker told reporters on hand for the event, "They will be the happiest little babies you ever met." Barker also advocated his hopes that someday no animals will be a part of circus acts.