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One of the 33 Lions enjoys his new enclosure at the Emoya Big Cat Sanctuary', on May 01, 2016 in Vaalwater, South Africa. A total of 33 former circus Lions, 22 males and 11 females from Peru and Columbia were airlifted to South Africa yesterday, before being released today to live out their lives on the private reserve in the Limpopo Province. 24 of the animals were rescued in raids on circuses operating in Peru, with the rest voluntarily surrendered by a circus in Colombia after Colombias Congress passed a bill prohibiting circuses from using wild animals.
Photograph by Dan Kitwood—Getty

Poachers in South Africa killed two lions that were rescued from circuses last year, authorities said.

The male lions, José and Liso, were two of the 33 that were freed from circuses in Peru and Colombia, according to CBS News. They lived in the Emoya Big Cat Sanctuary in Vaalwater, South Africa — which is where the poachers killed them last week. It’s unclear why the lions were killed.

The sanctuary, which is currently closed to visitors and volunteers, has 24-hour security and armed patrols, CBS reported. Authorities and anti-poaching units are investigating the killings.

Back in January, lions at another South African animal park were decapitated and had their paws chopped off — possibly for use in traditional healing rituals.

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