Cholita's condition was arresting. Her fingers "had been cut down to stumps by the circus to remove her claws." Her teeth were broken. And she was almost completely hairless and "barely recognizable as an endangered spectacled bear," ADI says in a statement.
For comparison, see a healthy spectacled (Andean) bear here.
According to the organization, authorities in Peru immediately removed Cholita from the circus; a 2012 law fully banned using wild animals in circuses in Peru, although enforcement is reportedly slow.
For now, Cholita is being housed at a local zoo. Tim Phillips, vice president of ADI, told The Dodo from Lima that ADI is negotiating with the zoo and Peruvian authorities so the organization can have full custody of Cholita.
"If so," he says, "we will collect Cholita next week and move her to the ADI temporary custody center. Our veterinary team will be able to monitor her and prepare her for [a flight to the U.S.]."
He says the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service must OK an import permit for Cholita to enter the U.S. - and Peruvian authorities must agree to an export.
ADI is hoping to fly Cholita to The Wild Animal Sanctuary in Colorado, which offers 720 acres of species-specific habitat.
The sanctuary is also poised to take in 33 former circus lions who ADI recently rescued from Peru and Colombia under its Operation Spirit of Freedom campaign. ADI says this is the biggest rescue and enforcement operation ever undertaken to eliminate all wild animals in circuses in both nations. Phillips says the organization has rescued 70 animals in the mission so far.