ONE overweight lion and two suffering tigers have arrived in Alicante after escaping a life in a Portuguese travelling circus.

They are some of Portugal’s ‘last remaining’ exotic wild animals forced to perform for the public.

It follows a strict prohibition on circus animals, which will become effective in Portugal from 2025.

“I do not believe this is a life for animals,” said AAP Primadomus’ big cat specialist Pablo Delgado after surveying the 6x6m tigers’ cage in an undisclosed area of Portugal.

Delgado drove with the three big cats to their new home in Villena, Alicante, arriving on January 20.

The older tiger, Brine, showed signs of kidney failure and serious stress – but Delgado said his team is ‘proud’ to give these animals the ‘retirement’ they deserve.

Since passing the law against using wild animals in 2019, Portuguese authorities contacted AAP Primadomus in Villena to oversee rescue efforts.

On December 17 the specialist team transferred 3 American crocodiles, 1 boa constrictor and 3 pythons to Karpin Abentura in the Basque Country and a reptile sanctuary in Germany.

A 19-year old lion, Ilaria, as well as Brine (16) and a younger tiger called Foz (11) arrived at AAP Primadomus’ own sanctuary last week.

Currently there remain just two elephants, one lion and one tiger yet to be handed over to Portuguese authorities.

But the news is bittersweet as AAP Primadomus’ political coordinator acknowledged that two EU countries have yet to ban wild animals circuses: Spain and Germany.

“We ask the EU to assume its responsibility and end the suffering of animals still forced to act in circuses in Europe,” Marta Merchan said.

AAP Primadomus is an exotic wildlife sanctuary in Villena (45 mins inland from Alicante city) with 80% of its big cats having been rescued from circuses.

The refuge is a member of the InfoCircos coalition, working to ban the use of wild animals in Spanish circuses, and acts as a halfway home to rehabilitate abused animals before finding them a forever home.

The AAP Primadomus sanctuary is open to public visits in small groups and with advance booking.

Find out more here.

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