“Jon was very skinny, was about to die. He had scars, his tail was very badly injured and he tore it off. His claws were pulled off and his teeth were in very, very bad shape,” Muriel Arnal from the animal welfare organization One Voice tells The Animal Reader.
Two months ago, they rescued the lion from a French circus. Arnal says that “Jon was suffering immensely from his teeth because the nerves were out”. He weighed only 115 kgs (253 lbs) but Jon has gained about 70 kgs (154 lbs) after being rescued and has totally changed.
Jon’s tail had to be cut off, but he is healing. His teeth have also been taken care of by dentists and he is no longer suffering from the continuous pain that he used to.
Arnal says that Jon’s condition was very severe and he was in a constant state of stress because of the lack of food when they rescued him. He roamed back and forth because of stress, but that is no longer the case. “He is very relaxed and gentle lion and it’s wonderful to see him that way.”
Hannah, Patty, Céleste and Marli
Since then, One Voice has rescued four more lionesses from the same circus. Arnal was extremely stressed about Hannah, Patty, Céleste and Marli because she worried that the lionesses would be dead by the time they rescued them. “They were very skinny and some of them had very bad teeth and three of them couldn’t properly stand on their legs.”
Ever since the rescue, these lionesses have undergone various health checkups and gained weight. While Hannah, Celeste and Marli can stand and walk properly, Patty, on the other hand, is still unable to walk. “She must have had an injury that was never cured on her hip,” says Arnal.
She talks about the sad state of these animals: “The lionesses did not have any name. The trainer called them ‘Baby 1, Baby 2, Baby 3 and Baby 4’. We gave them names.”
The animals also need dental care. Their teeth had been cut down and filed so that the animals didn’t bite.
These lions were kept in steel cages under the sun and had never been exposed to the environment. “It was really wonderful to see them discovering wood and sand. It’s so nice to see them arrive and be happy together.”
The circus from which these lions were rescued is barred from the use of all wild animals. Arnal plans on seeing them in the court: “I hope they will be condemned heavily”.
One-voice is in pursuit of saving Eliott, a lion at another circus. He is kept in a cage the entire day, under the sun without shade. Arnal says that Eliott also has a wounded tail and needs to be taken care of immediately.
Eliott is being used for breeding purposes. It’s a way of income for circuses, to sell the cubs, but trading of wild animals is illegal in France. One Voice is raising these concerns before the ministry and wants the illegal trade of cubs to be stopped immediately.
Never stop fighting
Arnal shows grave concern about the casual behavior of these circus people. “They are not respecting the rules. They are not abiding by the law”, she says.
But she is hopeful because she has seen a lot of changes in the people after Jon broke out a worldwide concern. When asked when she will be able to rescue Eliott, she says: “We don’t know. It took us two years to save Jon and the lionesses. But the key is to never stop the fight.”
Watch the full interview with Murel Arnal here: