3 min read

They Called Him 'Blind.' Now He Has A Name.

<p> Animal Defenders International </p>

Thirty-three lions were rescued in the past year following Peru's and Colombia's bans on performing circus animals. Like many circus animals, they'd spent their lives locked in tiny metal cages, being hauled from town to town and forced to perform for busy crowds.

They'll soon be rehomed to a sanctuary, but they'll carry with them the scars of their time in the circuses. Many had their claws cut off to stop them from striking their handlers. Their teeth have been smashed in with metal bars. The physical - and mental - toll is evident.

These are some of their names and faces.

Bumba and Junior

Animal Defenders International

Bumba

Animal Defenders International

Junior

Animal Defenders International

Joseph, formerly known as "Blind"

Animal Defenders International

Joseph

Animal Defenders International

Joseph

Animal Defenders International

Rapunzel

Animal Defenders International

Kiara reuniting with her cubs, Sarc and Mahla, after the circus separated them

Animal Defenders International

Rey

Animal Defenders International

Rey

Animal Defenders International

Rey

Animal Defenders International

Ricardo

Animal Defenders International

Ricardo

Animal Defenders International

After years of suffering, these lions and 24 others - all of whom were rescued by Animal Defenders International with the help of local governments - will soon have a brighter future and will be relocated to a new home at South Africa's Emoya Big Cat Sanctuary.

Unfortunately, there are thousands more like them in the U.S. alone. While countries like Mexico, Greece and the Netherlands have all banned performing circus animals, countless big cats and other exotic animals are languishing away in American circuses and roadside attractions.

You can make a donation to help these lions' ongoing rescue through ADI's website.

You can read more about the animals rescued in the circus crackdown here, here, here and here.