Filmmaker Tim Phillips talks ‘Lion Ark’

Filmmaker Tim Phillips recently spoke with “Breakthrough Entertainment” about his new documentary “Lion Ark.”

In “Lion Ark,” Phillips follows the world’s most ambitious and daring animal rescue, as a shocking undercover investigation leads to a ban on animal circuses in Bolivia and Animal Defenders International risks everything to see 25 lions airlifted to freedom in Colorado.

Listen to “Breakthrough Entertainment’s” full interview with Phillips by clicking HERE. The following is an excerpt from the interview in which the filmmaker discusses how “Lion Ark” went from being one organization’s effort to do make a difference to being a major motion picture.

I am vice president and co-founder of Animal Defenders International so I am obviously very heavily involved in the organization. And this is a story about how we kind of exposed the suffering of circus animals in Bolivia and secured legislation there. But the whole story of ‘Lion Ark’ is how these illegal circuses simply defied the law and we went back with the Bolivian government to seize all of the animals.

It culminated with this huge airlift of 25 lions from Bolivia to Colorado. We really knew from the outset that if we pulled this off it would be absolutely historic in a number of ways. All of the animals would be saved from this huge country. And it is a bigger country than people realize. It is about the size of Texas and California combined but with a very small population. So it is very remote and difficult to get around. There are not many proper roads.

So we knew that it would be spectacular if came off and we knew that it would be a landmark in how animal protection legislation can be enforced. I said, ‘Let’s film everything. Let’s see what we get.’ And this incredible story of tracking down the circuses, confronting them, seizing the animals, bringing them back to health and finally bringing them to the USA just unfolded and it kind of turned out more like an action adventure than a traditional documentary.” – Tim Phillips

Joseph J. Airdo

Joseph J. Airdo is a film critic, producer and on-air personality for Breakthrough Entertainment, a talk radio show airing 10-11 a.m. Saturdays on KPHX 1480 AM and that shines a spotlight on the practical perspectives of the topics and themes explored in movies. He has a pet duck named Frozen who is as opinionated about movies as he is. E-mail him at

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