A dozen wild animals rescued from abuse in Mexico, airlifted to U.S. sanctuary

Mexican environmental authorities loaded eight lions, two lynxes, a puma and a coyote aboard two military planes for a trip to a Colorado wildlife sanctuary on Wednesday, after the animals were found mistreated or abandoned.

The flight aboard two Mexican Navy transport aircraft was the second installment in an airlift that will eventually take about two dozen animals to The Wild Animal Sanctuary in Keenesburg, Colorado.

Guillermo Haro Belchez, head of the Mexican federal agency for the protection of the environment, said the animals’ new home will be a “safe refuge where they will receive the best care possible.”

“The animals are not bought, sold, negotiated or are mistreated in anyway,” he said, according to Mexican newspaper La Jornada. “They will be given all the opportunities so they can live normally.”

He added: “Their new home is the biggest sanctuary in the world for carnivores with more than 400 rescued lions, tigers, bears and wolves, among others living freely on 291 hectares (720 acres). This sanctuary, unique in the world, has rescued and rehabilitated more than a thousand of animals.”

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Biologist Ignacio Millan said it was the first time Mexico's Navy had participated in the animal relocation effort.

Millan said the lions, lynxes and puma had been taken from private homes, zoos or circuses where they were often mistreated.

The coyote, named Cancan, had been used in witchcraft ceremonies.

The lions’ names are Zimbas and Jupiter; the lionesses Sanshai, Andromeda, Venus, Terra, Luna and Miranda; the puma’s name is Pakal and the lynxes Negro and Silvestre.

Millan said that nine tigers still remain to be transferred to the 720-acre (291-hectare) sanctuary, where animals can roam relatively freely.

Mexico's recently enacted ban on exotic animal performances in circuses is expected to increase the number of animals that are either abandoned or left in poor condition, because many circus owners say they can't afford to maintain non-performing animals.

Based on reporting by the Associated Press.

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