“A Glimpse of Freedom: Circus Lion’s First Steps on Green Pastures”


An animal sanctuary located in Brazil just released some footage that immediately tugged at my heart-strings. Rancho dos Gnomos is a sanctuary that is highly dedicated to helping animals receive the treatment they deserve, as well as a good life. They rescue exotic animals in need and rehabilitate them, or provide a safe and loving home for those that cannot be adapted back into the wild. They are highly trained professionals with a powerful mission to help. The footage that they released was a video of their latest rescue, a lion named Will. Will was a circus lion that had been traveling and performing since he was born. At 13 years old, Will had never touched anything but a cold steel or concrete floor. That is when Rancho dos Gnomos came into action. The video below shows Will’s reaction to stepping on dirt and grass for the very first time after 13 years in the circus.

Will was a 13-year-old lion which is relatively older-aged for his species. He had spent his whole life in a cage, where he was forced to perform as a circus lion. He would be walked into the concrete arenas from his steel cage for a few hours and then right back to his confined quarters.

Will was completely denied any sense of freedom or normal existence. I thought at first that Will would be timid after seeing his new surroundings, but within mere seconds the old circus lion touches grass for the first time and is elated!

He immediately starts rubbing his enormous paws through the grass and the dirt, completely enjoying the soft material that he had never felt before. After 13 years in the circus, Will finally got a sense of freedom. Even being an older lion, Will displays his happiness by rolling around and running around like a little playful lion cub.

The best part of the experience is the very apparent feeling of relief. Will, the circus lion, touches grass for the first time and he knows he is in a better place. Will’s release took place in 2006 but the video was just barely released. After 13 years in the circus, Will was given peace of mind that day. He passed away in 2011 of old age but not before enjoying life as a real lion.

“He had five years of tranquility before he died. Here he had the opportunity to interact with other lions. He loved to lie in grass and look at the sky,” said sanctuary founder Marcos Pompeo.

When this circus lion touches grass for the first time it is obvious that he is on cloud 9. My eyes started filling up and an uncontrollable smile came to my face. He truly appreciated his new surroundings and lived his remaining years as a happy lion. My hat goes off to the team at Ranchos dos Gnomos for taking concern in these beautiful animals. Seeing his reaction when touching the ground for the first time in 13 years makes their mission absolutely worth it.


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