African lions born in captivity in Peru rest on April 27, 2016 caged in a containment area in Puente Piedra, northern skirts of Lima, prior to be airlifted to Johannesburg, South Africa, by Animal Defenders International. / AFP / CRIS BOURONCLE
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A planeload of 33 lions rescued from abuse in Peruvian and Colombian circuses will fly to South Africa Friday in what campaigners call the largest ever airlift of big cats.The lions, with names such as Zeus and Shakira, were freed after the use of wild animals in circuses was outlawed in Peru in 2011 and Colombia in 2013 .Twenty-four lions rescued in Peru will be driven from their temporary rescue center to Lima airport to be picked up by a cargo plane that is bringing another nine over from Colombia.From one of 10 Peruvian circuses also comes "Ricardo, the one-eyed lion" and from another "Joseph, the almost-blind lion".In the circuses the lions were ill fed and trucked around in cages, the group said. The Colombian circuses gave up the nine lions voluntarily but police had to launch raids to free the lions in Peru.
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