A dozen animals that suffered devastating abuse in captivity in Mexico, including eight lions and a coyote, were moved Wednesday to a sanctuary in the United States.
The animals, which also included other large cats, were rescued separately between 2012 and 2015, and moved with the help of the Mexican Navy to a sanctuary outside Denver, Colorado.
"Cancan," a 12-year-old coyote, had been held in captivity for witchcraft practices, while "Zimba," an African lion that is afraid of open spaces, was found with cuts on its front legs.
The sanctuary "has ideal conditions that the animals should have always been in," said Natural Resources deputy Ignacio Millan before the animals departed a Navy airport hangar in Mexico City.
The animals are part of a larger group of 22 cats that authorities plan to send to the United States.
The abused animals have been recuperating in Mexico`s Pachuca Biopark and are being transported to Colorado`s Wild Animal Sanctuary.
Animal abuse and neglect in Mexico is a "serious" problem and federal authorities have rescued 420 large cats, Millan said.