After six years of being listed in the “near threatened” category, in 2008, the International Union for Conservation of Nature listed mountain lions under the category of “least concern”.
The group recognizes six species of these amazing creatures throughout Canada and the United States, but despite their reverence in North American culture, their numbers have been dropping.
The wild tribe of the mountain lions has recently gained another member, a lion that had been in captivity for 20 years, and was finally released to taste his freedom.
All this time, the lion had been living in chains, and now has been set free as part of an event that had been a long time coming and garnered international headlines.
Much like the protagonist of the classic Disney movie “The Lion King”, the lion has been named Mufasa.
Although he has a kingly name, he has lived far from a regal life.
For twenty years, he has been chained and lived inside a pickup truck, after being found in an area of Northern Peru.
After ages of being tied to a pickup truck, Mufasa sat under a blanket of heavy chains as wildlife officials worked to cut him free.
It was all recorded on tape by the Animal Defenders International (ADI) group, which played a major role in helping Mufasa finally regain his freedom.
As soon as he was freed, Mufasa stretched out his legs and body fully and freely, for the first time in nearly two decades!
However, the entire operation of freeing Mufasa was far from easy, and it took ADI activists, police officers, and local wildlife officials to raid the traveling circus in Peru.
They acted after receiving a tip on how they had been using wild animals at their shows.
It is believed that Mufasa was captured as a cub.
The rescue operation took an eight-hour standoff.
Activists and officers were eventually ecstatic to witness Mufasa’s freedom finally granted!
According to a statement posted to ADI’s website:
“It was magical to see him moving about in and out of the trees in his own piece of protected forest. A heavy harness and chains were wrapped around his body and as we cut them away, he stretched, free, for the first time.”
The majestic animal was transported to a rescue center near Lima, Peru for rehabilitation.
Prior to his three-day trip to the Tambopata reserve in the Amazon rainforest, Mufasa was given a clean bill of health.
It is planned for him to spend the rest of his life in this lush, protected habitat.
A special shout-out to everyone who helped to free and preserve this valuable creature!