Last lions from French lion tamer to AAP

Two old lions who have had to perform in circuses for almost all their lives, just arrived at the Spanish rescue center of AAP.

King and Ngala, a 20-year-old brother and sister, were found in worrying condition in a bare circus trailer in southwest France this week. They were not receiving the care they need since their owner, a French lion tamer, ran into financial problems.


For now, the pair will be examined and observed in quarantine by AAP specialists, who are very keen to offer the lions a few more years of peace and loving care.

King and Ngala in the circus trailer

"King and Ngala's condition is worrying. Their long lives in the circus caused many physical and mobility problems. Together with their advanced age, it makes their rehabilitation difficult. We will do everything possible though to offer them the best care in the last years of their lives"

Circus ban

The former tamer gave his animals up because of money issues, and because of a 2021 law banning wild animals to perform in travelling circuses in seven years. This is a good thing of course, but we cannot forget that due to the highly specific biological and social behavioural characteristics of big cats, it is impossible to have their needs met in the life offered to them in a circus.

Ngala's left eye appears severely affected by an infection

The full medical report on their condition will follow soon, but the team has already noticed that King and Ngala are far too muscle-deficient. They are emaciated, sagging through their legs and Ngala appears to have a major infection or cataract in one eye.

Rescued with traumas

These two old lions are among the vast majority of circus animals rescued with one or more traumas. The earlier research report ‘The Darkness behind the Spotlight‘ showed that as many as 89% of all circus animals rescued at AAP suffer from trauma attributable to their past. This can be either physical or mental damage, but often a combination of both.

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