Three rehabilitated Bolivian circus lions have been released into an eastern Colorado habitat, thanks in part to game show host Bob Barker.
The 87-year-old former "Price is Right" host paid for 29 lions seized from circuses in Bolivia to be airlifted to Denver, where they have spent months being examined by veterinarians at the Wild Animal Sanctuary.
Bolivia became the first country to ban all animals from performing in circuses in July 2009, claiming tight living quarters and constant transportation "constitutes an act of cruelty."
Animal Defenders International (ADI), an animal rights advocacy group with offices in Los Angeles, London and Bogota, Colombia, worked with the Bolivians authorities to orchestrate the relocation of the big cats.
Local news from across Southern California
"This has been a landmark operation in so many ways," said Jan Creamer, ADI chief executive. "It shows how a government can pass bold animal protection measures and work with a group like ADI to ensure enforcement."
Three of the 29 seized cats now reside in a savannah-like habitat with water and underground dens on the plains of eastern Colorado. Creamer said she hopes this scenario will not be the last of its kind.
"Seeing these lions enjoying the freedom they deserve will hopefully also send a loud message that it is time to ban the use of wild animals in circuses here in the USA," she said.