However, Tricia Holford, rescue program coordinator for the Born Free Foundation, has reason to believe the lionesses had lived in appalling conditions. "Along with regular performances, they spent the rest of their time confined to a circus trailer," Holford told The Dodo.
The lionesses might have kept performing in the circus for years - perhaps for the rest of their lives - if it weren't for Maggie's tail injury.
"Maggie had an infected wound at her tail," Sil Janssen, founder and chairperson of Natuurhulpcentrum, a Belgian wildlife rescue center, told The Dodo. "When the circus got an inspection from the German authorities, they were warned to take care of the infected tail. When the German animal welfare inspector came back to check, the tail wound was still critical and the owner of the animals got a final warning."