After months in the planning, Network Airline Managements’ Charter Department operated a
flight carrying 33 lions rescued from illegal circuses from Colombia and Peru to South Africa.
The flight operated with one of NAM’s wet-leased Western Global Airlines MD11Fs, chartered
by leading US broker The Charter Store and their partner, Priority Worldwide Services, on
behalf of Animal Defenders International, a UK based charity with offices in London, Los
Angeles, and Bogota.
The operation began in Bogota, Colombia on 29th April where 9 rescued lions were loaded
and then flew south to Lima, Peru where an additional 24 lions were loaded during a twohour
stop. The MD11F departed from Lima and made a short technical stop at Viracopos,
Brazil to refuel and change crew. From Viracopos the flight routed to Johannesburg, South
Africa, arriving the following day.
The 33 Lions arrived safe and well in Johannesburg and were loaded onto trucks for the
final part of their long journey to Emoya Big Cat Sanctuary where it is hoped they will enjoy
a long, peaceful retirement.
After flying for more than 15 hours, the big cats were ‘remarkably calm after such a long
journey’, said Tim Phillips, co-founder of Animal Defenders International.
Several of the lions had been bred in captivity and all were forced to perform in circus acts,
living in poor, cramped conditions, with some having had their teeth broken and claws
removed by the previous owners.
Upon arrival at the Emoya Big Cat Sanctuary, the animals were released into open areas
with natural vegetation, and will be cared for under the African sun.
NAM’s charter team, led by Commercial Manager Sam Lindsey, meticulously arranged all
aspects of the charter along with NAM Operations, Western Global Airlines, and The Charter
Store, ensuring the flight operated as scheduled and the lions arrived safely.