LATF has followed the admirable work of ADI (Animal Defenders International) for several years now. Founder and President, Jan Creamer puts her life on the line to save animals and is the longest serving leader of any animal protection group in the UK. Jan and her team seek out poor conditions where animals are being held and mistreated. They take daring risks to remove wildlife and make a change for the better. ADI’s latest rescue mission has taken them to Peru for the largest animal rescue operation of its kind known as Operation Spirit of Freedom. The ADI team is tracking down and raiding circuses all over Peru to rescue every wild animal.
In the midst of their mission, Jan took the time to educate us on ADI’s current expedition.
When did ADI first learn of animal mistreatment in circuses throughout South America?
Jan: We first learned about the cruelty to animals in South American circuses when we rescued a chimpanzee from a circus in Chile. We were in Chile in 2002 for a conference for the Convention on International Trade in Endangered species, the international treaty to protect wild animals, and we came across a chimpanzee with a circus. We contacted the authorities and provided evidence for a legal case to seize the chimpanzee and after the circus disappeared and reappeared some months later, we finally caught up with them and rescued him. He went to a wonderful sanctuary in Zambia.
We realized how much suffering there was in circuses in South America, but there was a lack of really solid evidence to show the public. So we gathered a team together and sent ADI undercover investigators to work in South American circuses for two years, from 2005 to 2007.
We then released the findings to the public and it shocked the whole continent and changed minds forever. Five countries have now banned either all animals, or wild animals, from travelling circuses.
For the rescue mission, does ADI receive any cooperation from Circus members/authorities or is this a blind raid?
Jan: We are working with the Government of Peru. Following Peru’s ban on the use of wild animals in traveling circuses, they are now at the enforcement stage. So our role is to work with the authorities to go and collect the animals, and then we will find them homes.
How many people does it take to rescue this amount of animals?
Jan: Our rescue team is about 20 people.
What kind of resources and aid does ADI need for raids such as these?
Jan: To empty a whole country of its wild circus animals, and then find home and move them all, and to bring the African lions and the tigers to the US is a huge operation, hundreds of thousands of dollars to build temporary cages and a quarantine area, feed and care for the animals while their quarantine and export documentation is processed, then build travel crates and rent the aircraft to bring them to the US. But the result is world-changing – a whole country of circus animals moved to a wonderful new home!
Does ADI have eyes everywhere in the world looking out for animal mistreatment and how can one volunteer?
Jan: We always need volunteers – and we need volunteers to help care for the animals in Peru!
We need donations for food, for cages, for trucks, veterinary care and for travel crates and the flights.
You can make a difference in animal’s lives. Join the ADI cause today: http://www.ad-international.org
The public can sponsor cages, travel crates, or make a donation.