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Sadly, animals are still used in circuses in some parts of the world. But what happens to these animals when they retire? If lucky, they’ll live out the rest of their days at a sanctuary.

RELATED: Discover wildlife conservation trips with The Great Projects

This moving video went viral in 2015 and shows lion Will being released into a sanctuary after 13 long years spent in the circus industry. It was uploaded by Rancho dos Gnomos Santuário, a Sao Paulo sanctuary which works tirelessly in the care of wild and exotic animals displaced by circuses, trafficking, accidents and more. It’s home to over 230 animals including jaguars, deer, monkeys, otters, lions and much more.

The sanctuary said “for 13 long years, the lion had been confined to a cramped cage and denied any semblance of a normal existence” and the video shows “the thrilling moment Will experiences, for the first time, the feeling of soil and grass beneath his feet”. The elderly lion can be seen playfully exploring his new surroundings and digging the earth, “tragically, a foreign material for a creature who, up until then, had known only cold metal floors.”.

We hope Will can live out the rest of his days in comfort and peace, something he more than deserves. If you’d like to volunteer in wildlife conservation, talk to experts The Great Projects.

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