- Associated Press - Wednesday, February 16, 2011

DENVER (AP) - Twenty-five lions, most of them rescued from Bolivian circuses, were being flown to Colorado on Wednesday to start their new lives at a wildlife sanctuary.

The 13 males and 12 females were scheduled to land at Denver International Airport around 5 p.m.

The animals were rescued from deplorable conditions after a law was passed last year in Bolivia prohibiting all performances involving animals, Animal Defenders International said.

Television personality Bob Barker financed the rescue. He and Jorja Fox, a “CSI” actress and ADI ambassador, plan to welcome Operation Lion Ark and offer the lions their first drink of water after they land.

While three cubs are in one cage with their mother, the rest are traveling in their own cages, accompanied by a veterinarian. Before leaving Santa Cruz, Bolivia, they were given sleep medication.

After their flight, the lions will be trucked to their new home at the Wildlife Sanctuary in Keenesburg, Colo., about 35 miles northeast of Denver. A 15,000-square-foot biosphere was built to help them adjust to the chillier climate.

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