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Ex-Circus Bear Cholita Will Arrive At Colo. Sanctuary Summer 2015

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Animal Defenders International
Cholita in her temporary enclosure until her move to Colorado.

An abused circus bear will be coming to Colorado, but not until June 2015. Over 40 native animals have to be moved to their own sanctuaries in Peru before the Andean bear Cholita and 33 lions rescued from circuses and roadside attractions can come to Colorado.

Jason Maxey, spokesman for the Wild Animal Sanctuary — where Cholita and the lions will have a permanent home — said the animals have been moved to a compound in Peru by Animal Defenders International until they fly to Denver.

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Credit Animal Defenders International
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Animal Defenders International
Cholita yawning.

"They are living in a lot larger and more comfortable enclosures than what they were used too, they're getting medical care and much better nutrition than they've ever had in their lives, so they are in a safe place, a much better environment," Maxey said. "Kind of a holding area until they [Animal Defenders International] can get everything coordinated until they can move the animals to their respective sanctuaries."

Maxey said Cholita and the lions seem much happier in their interim home.

"From some of the pictures that you see of Cholita and the environment that she's in now, she does look like she is adjusting well and is in much better spirits than what she grew up around in the circus. She's getting better nutrition and is able to lay on straw and blankets instead of a concrete slab."

Cholita and the lions will have their own large acreage enclosures at the 720-acre Wild Animal Sanctuary, which has been home to captive exotic and endangered large carnivores since 1980. Maxey adds that part of that rehabilitation process is to transition animals to larger enclosures as they get more comfortable.

The Keenesberg, Colorado sanctuary has seen an outpouring of support for Cholita.

"When you look at a picture of how she should look, I think that really hits home with a lot of people and they actually see just how horrible it is when animals are kept in these types of conditions and how much their health and their appearance can go downhill," Maxey said. "People want to do what they can to help out and get her to her future home in the Wild Animal Sanctuary."

Animal Defender's International's habitats at Pilpintuwasi Wildlife Orphanage where Cholita and the lions are being held have been in place for over a year, according to Maxey.

"They initiated discussions with the Peruvian, Columbian and Bolivian governments in order to institute new bans on circus lions and other animals involved in circuses in those countries," he said.

In the meantime, other rescues continue. The Wild Animal Sanctuary will welcome 12 lions and 4 bears from Spain in late April 2015.

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Credit Animal Defenders International
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Animal Defenders International
Cholita and the 33 lions are eating proper diets and receiving medical care at the facility in Peru.

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