Guatemala Circus Tigers


Male tiger

Born 2010
Rescue from the circus by ADI June 2018
Arrived at Big Cat Rescue November 25, 2019

Relocated to Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge Sept. 28, 2023

Simba the tiger was rescued from the circus in Guatemala. We believe he was born in 2010. He came to us with two other male tigers, Max and Kimba. At the circus these tigers were fed chicken feet as their primary diet. This does not give them the nutrition they need. Many circus tigers are very closely related due to inbreeding and often suffer spinal deformities from the lack of nutrition, inadequate ability to move around, being forced into unnatural poses for circus acts, and being so inbred. These three tigers all have arches in their spines that we do not see in our other cats.

In the circus the full time living space for these circus tigers was only about the size of a queen size bed.  Because it is a cruel life 27 countries ban circus acts that use wild cats. In the U.S., there are seven states and 149 other localities in 39 states that have passed various restrictions or bans involving the use of wild animals in circuses.

The circus was banned by law in Guatemala thanks to efforts made by Animal Defenders International. Hermanos Ponce Circus resisted turning over the animals, but ADI eventually managed to get them to relinquish their tigers and ADI cared for them in a temporary facility while Big Cat Rescue worked to obtain the import permit needed to bring three of them, Simba, Max and Kimba, to their permanent home here.  They finally arrived on November 25, 2019.

Of the three tigers, when they arrived at Big Cat Rescue Simba proved to be the extrovert in the group. When the door of his travel crate was opened, he exited enthusiastically and headed right for one of our large cylindrical toys and started playing with it.

Background Information

February 7, 2018, was the first time Big Cat Rescue heard about the circus tigers in Guatemala. It was a Daily Mail story telling everyone how a 55-year old man had both his arms ripped off by starving tigers, who ate them as villagers threw rocks and beat the cats with sticks. The circus had been banned in Guatemala thanks to efforts made by Animal Defenders International. The tigers were supposed to have been turned over to authorities, but instead, Ponce Circus, and others all went on the run. On October 29, 2018, we heard that Ponce Circus tigers were still starving, and we asked ADI if they were able to find them.

By November 11, 2018, ADI was able to announce that they had gotten the last 6 tigers out of the Ponce Circus. The big cats were transferred to a temporary rescue camp that Big Cat Rescue helped to fund. Then the laborious process of obtaining export and import permits began.

In all, ADI rescued 6 lions and 15 tigers from the rogue circuses. Big Cat Rescue funded the care for 3 tigers named Kimba, Max, and Simba during this lengthy ordeal. Unfortunately, other sanctuaries had promised to do the same for the other cats, but they never followed through. The remaining cats will go and live in South Africa at the Rescue Center that ADI has built to care for them.

On November 25, 2019, three former circus tigers from Guatemala Rescued by Animal Defenders International, are on their way to Big Cat Rescue!

Arriving in Miami

Finally, the day has arrived! Watch as Max, Kimba and Simba land in Miami International Airport!

The Plane Has Landed

Watch as Max, Kimba and Simba are Taken off the Plane!

We have been waiting for this day for well over a year!

Our former circus tigers from Guatemala- Kimba, Max, and Simba- finally arrived at Miami International Airport (MIA) via Aero Union cargo plane this morning. A team of Big Cat Rescuers met them there and have loaded them into our air-conditioned transport trailer. They are on their way to the sanctuary right now!

Rescued from a life of circus suffering in Guatemala by Animal Defenders International (ADI) in June of 2018, Kimba (almost age 3), Max and Simba (both age 9) are about to start their new lives at their forever home at Big Cat Rescue! This is the largest international rescue of exotic cats for Big Cat Rescue in over 20 years.

While our tigers were at ADI’s temporary facility in Guatemala for over a year as we awaited completion of the import/export paperwork, Big Cat Rescue provided $85,000 in financial support for the cats, including the flight to Miami, thanks to YOUR generous donations!

At Big Cat Rescue, tigers Max, Simba, and Kimba will each enjoy their own spacious (approximately 4,000-sq-feet) natural enclosure with freshwater pools for cooling off and splashing, numerous shade trees, soft grass and foliage, dens, and large platforms. They will have the best medical and dental care at Big Cat Rescue’s onsite Windsong Memorial Hospital as well as proper nutrition and mentally stimulating enrichment treats several times a week. Each tiger will enjoy his own Butterball turkey for Thanksgiving and his own Christmas tree in December. They will also go on month-long vacations in our 2.5-acre Vacation Rotation space!

Can we now count on your support for the ongoing food and care for these precious boys? It costs our sanctuary $10,000 per year for food and vet care for each tiger. That’s a $400,000 commitment for these three tigers, assuming they live to age 20, which is very likely at Big Cat Rescue.

Big Cat Rescue would like to thank the Guatemalan government for its commitment to enforcing the law and eliminating the use of animals in circuses, and the Guatemalan animal welfare division (UBA), and the customs broker Eduardo Arecco CHB for his services.

Pools for Guatemala Tigers

There was much advance preparation done to get ready for these three new tigers some of which were enclosures with new pools were constructed.

November 25, 2019

Lots of work went into building pools for the Guatemala boys!

Simba getting breakfast LIVE with Brittany on Giving Tuesday 2019!

Simba tiger getting his first Christmas enrichment LIVE with Brittany!

December 20, 2019

Simba, Max and Kimba get their first holiday turkeys since being rescued from the circus!

January 3, 2020

Simba is my supervisor today 😍~Jamie Veronica

January 8, 2020

I mean… look at that face #Simba 🐯~Brittany Mira

February 18, 2020

Simba, Kimba and Max tigers are getting their first Valentine’s Day enrichment!

March 29, 2020

Goofy time with the goofiest tiger, Simba.~Jamie Veronica

April 1, 2020

Even big cats take cat naps 😴 Simba tiger~Jamie Veronica

April 24, 2020

Happy Friday everyone! Hope you have a peaceful weekend. Simba tiger.~Jamie Veronica

April 27, 2020

Its tooooo earrrrly!!! Simba tiger~Jamie Veronica

May 31, 2020

Lisa sings to Simba tiger!

June 9, 2020

One of Simba tigers favorite things is hugging his trees. One of things he was deprived of living in a circus wagon for the first 10 years of his life.

August 17, 2020

Nom Nom – Simba tiger~Jamie Veronica

August 18, 2020

Incoming 🐯☀️ #Simba

~Brittany Mira

August 21, 2020

Simba relaxing in the Vacation Rotation pond!

August 25, 2020

Simba drops the ball for a bigger prize 😂~Jamie Veronica

August 30, 2020

Simba tiger does love his trees!

December 15, 2020

Simba tiger LOVES his Christmas tree enrichment!

December 29, 2020

Simba looks mischievous 😏~Jamie Veronica

January 2, 2021

Simba tiger got a new toy thanks to one of his supporters.

May 6, 2021

Simba tiger looking around the corner in search of the weekend 💓~Jamie Veronica

June 4, 2021

Simba tiger LOVES his pool!

June 10, 2021

Simba tiger and his stinky face!

June 28, 2021

Simba on Vacaton!

April 4, 2022

April 14, 2022

Simba checking in with each of his toys after he came home from vacation 😂~Jamie Veronica

May 3, 2022

Behind the scenes of Give Day 2022 with Simba.~Jamie Veronica

May 26, 2022

Simba tiger 😻~Jamie Veronica

June 12, 2022

Simba Tiger is hoping you all had a relaxing weekend too😻~Brittany Mira

July 7, 2022

The OG intern Gayle came in the help Victor and I build rebuild platforms for Simba. Gayle was an intern when I was in my mid twenties and we have been great friends ever since 😃 So glad she has moved back to Florida 🥳 A big thanks to the interns who busted it today with the landscaping in his open air enclosure as well.~Jamie Veronica

July 28, 2022

Simba~Jamie Veronica

August 8, 2022

Simba soaking in his pool. You can watch Simba on his LIVE Verkada cams at

August 19, 2022

Simba tiger is such a goof ball!~Jamie Veronica

October 5, 2022

November 30, 2022

Simba with his best sneaky pants on lol~Jamie Veronica

December 1, 2022

Simba on his Verkada cam in his pool!

January 19, 2023

Simba recovered well overnight and is back in his enclosure. He is still a bit wobbly from sedation yesterday. Simba was neutered yesterday in hopes that it will help alleviate some of his behavioral issues. Being surrounded by a bunch of girl tigers going into heat all the time is no fun…Simba will be shut away from his pool for the next couple of weeks while he heals. I’m sure Kali will miss her afternoon nap buddy (these two neighbors can usually be found napping near one another in the sun). We are still awaiting final bloodwork results and results from fluid pulled from a small mass in his ear.~Jamie Veronica

Sponsor Simba tiger!

You can sponsor Simba tiger for as little as $25/year to help support his ongoing health care and food. Food and vet care for a tiger is about $10,000/year!

Guatemala Tiger Rescue Merchandise

You can help support these wonderful tigers by shopping for merchandise that sports their photos.  Here are a few of the items you can choose from. These products not only help support the cats at Big Cat Rescue but also make fabulous thoughtful gifts for loved ones during the holidays or on special occasions. Find them at

Similar Posts


  1. i am sooo glad y’all care as you do.
    I cannot understand what drives humans to abuse any furry creature.
    Thank you.

    1. This is what it’s all about and so worth it!!!!Men are so barbaric it’s just pathetic this day and age to STILL have circuses .Why do people even go.innevwr enjoyed them even as a kid!!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *