Wednesday 15 July 2020 | 156

The torture has ended for Hannah, Céleste, Patty and Marli.

The torture has ended for Hannah, Céleste, Patty and Marli.

Mis à jour le 24 July 2020

They are about fifteen years old. Like Jon, they were born in a wagon and have never known anything but the metal floor and bars of their cages, with no protection from the cold of winter nor the heat of summer. Hannah, Céleste, Patty and Marli, the four lionesses that we have saved, bear the physical and psychological stigmata of the hell that was their life in the circus.

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Their distress is pitiful to witness. Their long ordeal has left deep scars on Hannah, Céleste, Patty and Marli. Their poor bruised bodies bear witness to the suffering that the four lionesses have endured since they came into the world: captivity, hunger, injuries, repeated pregnancies for the lucrative trade in cubs and, of course, training. Our investigators have visited and filmed many circus performances and menageries but were struck by the extreme violence of the act that the lionesses had to perform before they were seized. Under the threat of the whip, terrorised, they found it difficult to move, even just to stand up.

A heart-wrenching rescue

And for a good reason: only when we saved them on 7 July and got as close as possible to them were we able to see just what a deplorable state they were in. We had charged our partner Natuurhulpcentrum with transferring them from the circus to the refuge of Tonga Terre d’Accueil, to whom we have entrusted their day-to-day care whilst we have overall responsibility for them until the circus appears in court.  When they arrived at the refuge the four lionesses were gaunt, haggard and covered in injuries caused by beatings. Their teeth had been removed and they were so weak that they staggered. Hannah was the first to leave the travel crate, calmly, watching us with her large eyes. We immediately noticed that she had difficulty walking because her hindquarters were unstable. Then Céleste, Patty and Marli followed in turn, not all at the same rate but commensurate with their level of anxiety. It became obvious that Marli was particularly stressed. It was an hour and a half before she had plucked up enough courage to enter the den, trembling all over, traumatised both physically and psychologically.

Discovering a taste for life

The lionesses seemed delighted to discover their new living quarters. It was wonderful to see them trying to sharpen their claws on big tree-trunks, enjoying the comfort of clean, soft ground under their paws, lounging on their backs without a care, eating their fill... It was a very emotional experience to watch Patty – the thinnest of the four, with her deformed left hip, her very weak hind-quarters often causing her to fall – grab the big ball with which Jon also likes playing so much. As soon as she saw it she didn't want to let go of it. It was amazing to see an animal, after fifteen years of privations, clinging to this toy as if it were a priceless treasure. But we were also angry that these elderly lionesses had known nothing up to now but an empty cage on the cold and dirty floor of the trainer's wagon.

Healing the wounds

It will be a long time before Hannah, Céleste, Patty and Marli recover from their unimaginable suffering. The report the vet drew up on 9 July, based for the moment on visual observations alone, is already extremely worrying. What will be revealed when these big cats are examined more thoroughly once they can withstand being anaesthetised? We fear the worst. They are old and worn out from their lifelong ordeal. For now we are pleased to be able to offer them a period during which they can convalesce and recuperate in the hope that it may save them. For now they are going to be looked after, build up their strength and put on weight. The day after they arrived at the refuge they were already able to leave their dens to explore the outside area. Walking on the grass, lying in the sun and snuggling up to one another are all extremely beneficial to them. Being together reassures them and helps them to remain confident about the future. Soon, when they have been given a full health check, they will be reunited with Jon, who can already see them and communicate with them at a distance. Let's hope they will soon recover from their ordeal and bounce back to health.

Translated from the French by Patricia Fairey

Marie-Sophie Bazin
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In the subject

Against all odds for Samba, the last ‘circus’ elephant, whose suffering has broken the State’s indifference We will defend the animals from the Franco-Belge Circus before the courts.

Comments 156

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Evlinge | Monday 31 August 2020

Quelle émotion de voir ces pauvres lionnes entrer dans leur nouveau havre de paix.
Effarant de constater à quel point ces pauvres animaux pourtant puissants, sont réduits, dans quel état, ne pouvant même plus tenir sur leurs pattes. Espérons que grâce à ONE VOICE que je soutiens depuis plusieurs années, elles puissent profiter d'une retraite heureuse le plus longtemps possible. Merci pour tout ce que vous faites pour tous nos amis les animaux et merci de nous offrir ces vidéos et nous donner de leurs nouvelles prochaines.

Kiwette | Monday 24 August 2020

Fidèle adhérente de One Voice, et de tous vos combats, je désire être tenue au courant du suivi de ces pauvres lionnes et connaître leur devenir. Qu'elles connaissent enfin une vie douce et pleine de bonheur !

Merci de la suite que vous donnerez à ma demande.

Toune | Friday 21 August 2020

Bravo pour ce que vous faites ! Je ne puis vous soutenir financièrement pour l'instant, mais dès que cela me sera possible, je le ferai en priorité...

Libertés | Monday 10 August 2020

Je vous soutiens et il faut sauver des griffes de leurs bourreaux ces pauvres bêtes maltraitées.. C'est primordial à leurs survie et il faut que ça s'arrête, se faire de l'argent sur le dos de ces pauvres bêtes maltraitées et en mal de nutrition c'est atroce....