Mountain lion chained up in rusty truck for 20 years—but what happens next—he’s not ready

September 4, 2017 3:16 pm Last Updated: December 10, 2017 8:41 am

Imagine living chained up in a rusty steel truck with no room to move, zero privacy, and constantly being subjected to the whims of others.

A rusty pickup truck is no place for any living creature to spend days and nights in. Unfortunately, many animals are still subjected to unnatural living conditions where they are limited in space and movement. Because of that, they often are physically unhealthy and distressed. Being underweight or malnourished is not uncommon. These animals are often very weak, without proper room to exercise their muscles and run around.

It’s terrible to imagine, but that’s what makes witnessing a beautiful creature walk to its freedom and return to its true home a precious and heartwarming moment.

Mufasa the mountain lion lived chained up in the back of a rusty pick-up truck for 20 years as part of a Peruvian roadside circus. The full-grown mountain lion had to endure the stares of onlookers its whole life, all while being chained up in a cramped, rusted truck bed.


That is until 2015, when Animal Defenders International, an organization that focuses on animal rescues, released Mufasa after shutting down the Peruvian roadside circus.

Mufasa’s face longing for freedom is just heartbreaking.


Peru banned wild animals in circuses but that didn’t stop most circuses from including them in their shows. Mufasa was the last wild animal to be held captive in a Peruvian circus. In 2015, ADI tracked down that very circus and, after a dramatic confrontation that involved police, the circus was shut down and Mufasa was released from his chains.

Look at the moment rescuers cut Mufasa free from his chains. The cat can hardly believe it. Can you imagine how light and refreshing it must feel to finally release thick, heavy chains from your neck? Chains that have sat on your back for two decades?

Mufasa’s face says it all. He’s in disbelief.


Mufasa was moved to a temporary cage to be transported to his new home. Now, his paws could finally feel the soft hay massaging his skin and muscles and sleep soundly on a comfortable surface.

Unfortunately, after spending his life in terrible conditions, Mufasa suffered from health problems, including kidney failure. The mountain lion was totally unsuited to life in the wild. So the rescuers built him an enclosure at a sanctuary in his natural environment in the Peruvian forest where he was also looked after by professionals until he passed away in December 2015, several months after his rescue.

Fortunately, Mufasa did get to live the rest of his days the way any wild animal should: in nature, free, and peacefully — even if it was only for a few months.

Watch Mufasa’s story: