**Pets In The City: **For many of us, the circus brings back fond memories of lions, tigers, and other large, beautiful creatures performing incredible acts of courage and agility usually with their tamers and trainers on board. But in recent years, the ability of some circuses to properly care for these large beasts has been under scrutiny. This scrutiny has not been limited to the United States. Joining us today is Jorja Fox, who plays the popular character Sara Sidle on the mega hit *CSI *Las Vegas, to talk about her personal work on behalf of some very special and now globe-trotting lions that she and other notable stars have helped move from Bolivia to the U.S. through their support of Animal Defenders International and their work on Operation: Lion Arc. Thanks so much for joining us today, Jorja.
Jorja Fox: Oh Diane, thank you so much for having me, I’m really excited about this project.
PITC: So give us a little bit of background; tell us what life is like as you know it from your involvement in this project- what life is like for a typical circus lion in Bolivia.
JF: Uh… well, goodness, and that’s a huge question, the organization ADI- Animal Defenders International- started an investigation, it was sort of a two-year undercover investigation, to the treatment and soft of the everyday life of circus animals throughout South America. And they found some really, really tough findings, you know, the animals are obviously kept in very small spaces, some of them are often malnourished, they were on the road all the time, the temperatures, as we know, can either be extremely hot, or extremely cold.
Their researches- it’s pretty well-documented on their website- [inaudible] presented these findings to a bulk of counties in South America and they invited and soft of asked these nations if they could do better, and what could they do, and um, in a beautiful stroke of sort of, genius, a lot of the nations in South America responded lovingly and decided to ban circuses. So, this country that we’re dealing with right now, Bolivia, has put in a full ban in set, uh, it was actually passed by their Congress- it’s billed 40-40- and um, made traveling circuses and all circuses with large land mammals illegal. Uh, there’s-
JF: -three other countries right now in South America with bans that are pending, uh, including Peru, Brazil and Ecuador. Uh, Costa Rica banned a long time ago, I think, probably three or four years ago, uh, which really was phenomenal, because it was sort of ridged between Mexico and South America, and when Costa Rica decided to outlaw traveling circuses, they sort of put in effect- it became very difficult for these traveling circuses to get from one country to another, you know, Costa Rica, Panama, Guatemala sort of being the gateway of nations. It wasn’t an easy feat, and ADI, when they were able to successfully put these bans in effect, sort of made a pledge to the country Bolivia that they would help them with any circus animal that was left over from the ban. Obviously these animals are very difficult and expensive to care for, they have huge needs, they need a lot of land and space, and um, they told Bolivia, “Don’t hesitate”, you know, “if there’s an animal, we will be responsible for them for the duration of that animal’s life.” And out of that has come Operation: Lion Arc; ADI successfully moved four lions in May of 2010 out of Bolivia to the PAWS sanctuary in Northern California.
I think it was one of the first times that something like that had been done and the problem was that, um, Bolivia unfortunately, right now, doesn’t really have the type of sanctuaries to care for these animals if they’re not privately owned through circuses. Hence the giant air-lift, and it seems sort of like an extreme measure to take to, the different life sanctuary, and also because a lot of the laws are so different throughout a lot of those countries, um, there’s a fear of leaving some of these animals behind, in essence, they could get sold off, and, and could end up almost anywhere, to a nation which hasn’t banned circuses yet, and uh, the hope was really to provide- if the ban was going to take effect, you know, the dream was to improve the circumstances for these animals, not to sort of leave them in a limbo or a purgatory.
So they have gone about the country of Bolivia with the permission and the great help of the nation of Bolivia, uh including the president and mayor and governor of Santa Cruz [California], and have collected in- I think they were able to go to seven circuses in seven days, and collect a bulk of the lions and with the one final lion that they did pick up on February 4th, there’s a total of twenty-five [lions], three of them are cubs, and one of them is a quite aged, half-blind lion named Kimba, who was given, uh, you know, just a brief window into [inaudible] in a cage in Bolivia, for the last eight years without ever leaving that cage…
JF: …and they had to sledge-hammer him out, they literally had to break walls down in the zoo just to get the lions out of the zoo to get him transported. You know, after he retired from some circuses, he’d been living in the zoo for eight years, so- and that went well, that went great. And they’ve been getting him healthy enough to travel and they will be air-lifting him on February 15 to the wild animal sanctuary just outside of Denver, Colorado. They’re the largest and oldest non-profit wild-life sanctuary in the United States and, um, that’s sort of just the just of it. Any circus animal- at least, I can speak for in the United States, and having done, you know, a lot of educating myself about South America- it’s really one of the most unnatural things that we could ask of these animals. Um, nothing about the circus is in any way humane or natural for animals, particularly large land mammals like lions, bears, elephants, uh, even animals like zebras or llamas, it goes against the very grate of their nature, and I think that we’re in the kind of history that’s pretty exciting because I think a lot of people are recognizing that, and evolving beyond it, you know, there’s other ways- you know, we’re stuck with these animals now that can’t be released back into the wild because they’re not able to do so, and so what is the best possible thing that we can do for them?
The wild-life animal sanctuary in Denver, Colorado allows visitors which is one of the ways that they’re able to keep the sanctuary going, and I offer that to people who really want to see these animals, who want to, you know, educate their kids about these animals; don’t go to the circus, don’t go the zoo. Find a sanctuary in your area, there’s a decent amount of them, and take your kids there. I live in California, you know, go whale watching, don’t go to Sea World.
PITC: Now, you raised a number of really interesting hot topics here. Now, one thing I kind of zeroed in on is when you say having to deal with different countries, I would imagine that gets very, very delicate, (laughs) you know, when you have people from the United States going in and saying “Hey, you’re doing something wrong, we’re gonna take these lions, you know, from you”, I mean, how important was it to have the local authorities behind your efforts in that?
JF: I don’t think it can be done *without *the local authorities and without the popular support of the region. ADI sort of started their circus campaign- you know, they’re originally out of London, their headquarters is is Los Angeles now but they still have a very active office in London- and they began their campaign in Europe and they were able to implement several bans in Europe first, you know, and London has got a ban pending, and I think with the success of that they were able to branch out into other areas. I think they were connected in South America, I think that they saw that there was a dire, dire, dire need in South America, and that was one of the reasons they chose to go there next.
They’re laughing their American Circus Campaign relatively soon and I think we should…
PITC: Oh really?
JF: Yeah, I think we should expect that within the year, as well. And because the U.S. is such a juggernaut of different laws and different recommendations and different statistics, I think that, uh, ADI has wanted to make sure that they’re very well prepared before they launch and part of the air-lift I think, hopefully, will let people know that ADI is out there and will sort of bring ADI home to the United States and, and that’ll create at least a platform for them to slowly begin their launch.
PITC: I do have to ask you this: now, a lot of us who are “of a certain age”, shall we say (Jorja laughs) have these fond memories of going to the circus, and I mean, it wasn’t a big deal, you know, that was actually one of the big things we were looking for, you know, the lions jumping through the fire, jumping through the hoops. You know, how do you fundamentally change somebody’s, I guess, childhood memories of that? You know, is there a challenge to shifting from saying “What you were watching was horrible and awful, but we want you to watch this instead?”
**JF: **Yeah. Well, and I wouldn’t want to try and reframe people’s memories, you know, certainly if they have good memories, that’s a great first connection, you know, because if they have a great memory of animals in a circus then probably they connected at some point that there was a, a love and admiration for these animals. So, I’ve been lucky enough- and I’m not all that young myself- but I’ve been lucky enough to you know, kind of grow up with first National Geographic and now *Animal Planet *and you know, IMAX theaters, and I think that there’s so many other great ways, including some of these Disney feature films that have been out, that have kind of came out of Planet Earth, there’s just so many better ways to do it now, and um, you know that the legacy of importing wild animals all over the world has been a really tragic and sad one across the globe, you know, and has led in many respects to a lot of a lot of these [animal] populations being on the brink of extinction.
Now we have a whole other crisis because even if we can care for a lot of these animals, we don’t have all that many places to put them where we can really call it a sanctuary, you know, whether it’s in Africa or Europe, the United States, space is limited, it’s very expensive, and, you know, along with global warming and so many of these other issues that are pressing on us, is how do we keep habitats and environments that’s sustainable for these animals and for the next two hundred, three hundred, four hundred years for our kids and their kids? And really, in my opinion, it’s sort of a balance of the planet, I mean all of these animals in the wild have very important jobs that they do, and have kept the balance of the Earth in a beautiful- I would say a very beautiful state, and I don’t think you have to be a rocket scientist to look around and see things, you know, everything from like, fishing populations disappearing, you know, at the base of it, we’re going to have to feed ourselves and hopefully live on the planet and have enough oxygen and enough trees so we can all flourish and with that, you know, without the wild-life population, I don’t think really think that’s entirely possible.
PITC: When you say, you know, that all of us can flourish, the lion laying down with the lamb, and us, you know, taking care of everybody as well, what occurs to me is when you do go into countries like Bolivia and you know, like certain farmers in Africa who, you know, have their crops trampled by elephants, I’m wondering, is there a very delicate balance where you can say, “Look, we care about you humans as well, and here’s an alternative that you can do to make a living as, you know, opposed to infringing upon the wild animals, you know, is that part of it as well?
JF: Absolutely, like how can you make this sustainable for everybody? And I mean, my environmentalism and my animal advocacy comes directly out of love for people, you know, and I don’t really want to move to Mars, you know, I mean, I guess (host laughs) that can always be a last resort, but-
PITC: (laughing) CSI Mars!
JF: -you know- Yeah! (laughs) I can only imagine. So of course, you know, and that’s one of the bigger issues with a lot of these wild animals, is habitat encroachment, you know, and that is because the populations of people are expanding in ways that we didn’t predict thirty and forty and fifty years ago, or maybe that we just didn’t make space for, and that’s where a lot of these clashes are coming from in terms of wild habitats. You know, there’s cultural things, you know like in the U.S., I think 80% of wild [animal] trafficking ends up in the United States of China. The U.S. really loves wild animals as pets and entertainment. China loves them as pets and entertainment, they also use them for medicinal purposes and they really eat exotic animals in a way that we don’t.
So we all have our cultural sensitivities and things that we can perhaps be working on, you know, for me it starts right here in Los Angeles and California and it is, you know, it’s a very tense balance and you have to show a lot of respect for people, and hopefully at the same time we can all work together to make things better for all of us, instead of, you know, at the exclusion of, you know, farmers in let’s say the Serengeti or, you know, a lot of animals that will be gone in twenty to twenty-five years, I mean, if you get on the [inaudible] website, I mean it’s terrifying, sort of that look at what could happen. I mean now, it was a hundred years from now, then it was sixty years from now, you know now it’s twenty years from now so I really invite anybody who cares about these issues, pick your specialty and get involved, because this is something that’s gonna happen while most of us are on the planet, we’re going to see this happen. And I do think it will lead also to the fall of the human race; I don’t think that it will be exclusive to the fall of the animal kingdom.
And why is it over so many years it seems like there’s been some sort of battle- you know, maybe back when we were cave people, you know, man needed to exert his authority over the planet- at this point, we’ve won, I mean we won fair and square, we really-
PITC: (laughs) I think that’s-that’s being generous that we-that we won!
JF: We won that battle, and it’s now my generation’s time to sort of put a balance back into things. There’s a lot of ways to do that, I mean there’s a lot of people out there working very diligently on these projects. ADI is one of them, and you know, these animals are coming, primarily with the tremendous benevolence of Bob Barker, who over the last twenty years has just done some phenomenal things for animals, but because ADI has pledged to support these animals for the rest of their natural lives, they are actively seeking support and donations from people who are interested in adopting a lion or seeing these animals through. It’s a pretty remarkable undertaking, it’s the biggest seizure and rescue operation of lions ever and, um, you can go to- let me get this- savethelionsappeal.com or adiusa.org if you’d like to support this endeavor.
PITC: I’ve seen that, you know a lot of us have trouble, you know, fitting our overhead luggage on the plane and I’m thinking My God, you know, how do you move a lion, you know-
PITC: *(laughs) *-on the plane from Bolivia?
PITC: I mean, as Jorja says, you really have to- just the logistics of moving twenty-five lions-
PITC: -is quite amazing. So we’re going to take a brief break, and when we’re gonna come back, and yes everyone, I am gonna ask Jorja about CSI so don’t hang me, I will be right back. (Jorja and the host laugh)
After the break…
PITC: And we’re back. And as you can see, Jorja Fox, in addition to being apparently a world investigator (Jorja laughs) in getting these beautiful, exotic animals back here, as we all know, she is one of our favorites on CSI Las Vegas. That’s the only CSI for a lot of us out there AHEM, but anyway* (laughs)*
JF: (laughs) Thank you!
PITC: Jorja plays Sara Sidle who is an amazing- the evolution of that character has been amazing to watch, Jorja. What is this, the eleventh season?
JF: Yes! Season eleven! Who coulda thought?
PITC: And you were gone for, what, about two years, and people went bananas!
JF: Ohhh, well thank you. Yeah, I took a sabbatical, it was, you know, interestingly enough I ended up doing at least a couple of episodes every season so far, but there was a year there, I took sort of a year off where I- I found myself tired and I decided that I wanted to get off TV before people noticed or before, perhaps, my coworkers started to notice. CSI was kind enough to let me go so, and then um, you know, the year passed, and I was ready to work. I did a lot of traveling, I worked on some of my own projects, little things that I’ve been wanting to do, and things that you know, you kind of want to do ’em when you’re young enough that you’ll still ’em, and, and then I started looking for work and I think I’d been looking for work for about three weeks when CSI called me and said “Hey, I hear you’re looking for work, would you like to come back?” and I couldn’t think of a single reason under the sun to say no and it’s been really fun, I guess I’ve been back, you know, two seasons already, almost.
PITC: Hold on a second, let me back-track up this. Okay, they had to call you and say “Hey I hear you’re looking for work?”
JF: Well, you know, they had given me this amazing, beautiful, dramatic goodbye with cake and flowers and (host laughs) a party and you know, I remember saying to Carol Mendehlson, who’s our-
PITC: -but they send you to South America, right? Didn’t they send you to South America?
JF: They did!
PITC: Interestingly enough?
**JF: **They did. Sara got to go to Costa Rica, she got on the Sea Shepherd off the Galapagos, she did all kinds of exciting things, and the last thing that I said to our show runner Carol Mendehlson was, you know, “I’ll miss you, thank you so much, I’m leaving, but I’d love to visit sometime.”
JF: So that sort of- that, you know, one thing led to another and I had first came back, um, when William Petersen was ready to take his sabbatical, they invited me back for a couple of shows, to sort of help him get off the show, and that’s where we were left, you know, sort of suspended, you know, and it was one of these great- in my opinion, it was one of these great Hollywood endings with two characters that were going to live happily ever after, exploring the world together, there was a part of me that thought, you know, we should just let that sit, you know, the book is closed, you know, the chapter at the end says “The End” and it’s over, and so, there was that, where I thought maybe the best thing for those characters was to just sort of stay there, and then there was this call from CSI saying “Well why don’t you just come visit for a little while?” and I was thrilled, I never expected that to happen, you know, TV shows move on, you know, when people leave the show for whatever reason, they tend to move on, and so it was very flattering and ended up being great for me, and um, now we’re sort of in a balance where I get to do a lot of episodes and, and if there’s something else I want to do, like go to Denver in February and greet these lions for a few days, they are often able to tell me to go do it, so it’s a great, great job.
PITC: You and Grissom, and as you were saying, that’s your wonderful co-star William Petersen, you guys, for a lot of people, have an ideal marriage. (Jorja cracks up) You know, it’s like, you love each other, you Skype in once in a while, “Hey, how you doing?”, and whatever (laughs)
PITC: And I mean, and you, forget it, you teased everybody [in] the last episode [The Two Mrs. Grissoms] that he was on there and you guys were talking… does that mean that Gil might be coming back?
JF: Well thanks for watching, first of all, and-
PITC: Oh, of course!
JF: -and that was, yeah, a really great scene for me, you know, I had done one episode where I was on the Sea Shepherd and I Skyped Grissom, and I essentially break up with him, you know, and say you know, I’m not going to wait for you anymore, and you know, I love you and you’re free, go live your life, and sort of for that to come full circle and where I’m sitting at CSI and he’s in Peru, you know, working on these ruins, well, it was a great moment, and he was kind enough to come- I don’t think it means anything necessarily for the future of Grissom and Sara on CSI, that would definitely be a question for Billy [Petersen], but I was really grateful that he showed up, and you know, at least in this make-believe world, you know, Sara and Grissom are still very much in love and happily married and, and you know, they were always two very, very independent souls who kind of always went where their heart led them and, and so I think that is a great thing about their relationship that they can be together and they’re both people who have both wanted to do some really exotic, crazy things and that they have the space in their relationship to allow each other to do that is really cool for me. I really like them as a couple, too.
PITC: And I mean it really seems they’ve both evolved as characters, I mean, you’ve really seen them both come out of their shells and I mean every so often you hear a revelation that’s like “Wow, you know, maybe that’s what forms a personality” but I gotta tell you, one thing I really love about Sara is, you know, you see that there’s a lot more to her than meets the eye, over the past ten years, I mean, she seems very shy and reserved, but I mean, highly intelligent, but very shy and reserved, and then, you know, every so often you like a pearl like you know, you find out she was in foster care, and then you find out that you know, she’s had other stuff, and I mean it just seems like really inspiring to a lot of women, I think, that showing a strong woman who’s overcome some hardships and has now carved out a successful career for herself.
JF: Thank you, and yeah, I certainly think- and that was very polite of you, I mean, I might describe her as a little socially inept, or *(host laughs) *a little [inaudible]
PITC: She’s a nerd! She’s a lab nerd!
**JF: **(laughs) But yeah, you know, it’s a testament to our writers, I think, for sure the moral of the story is that your stuff or your junk or your trauma, you know, doesn’t have to define you for your entire life, you know, and I think that’s a really awesome message, that you can make apple sauce out of apples, you know, that you can, you can persevere, and um, and you know, her and Grissom are very unique, I mean he was kind of eccentric himself when it came to such personal skills, and-
JF: And it took them a really long time— I think that they — that there was a connection between them and a chemistry but it took them both a really long time to both decide that they could actually spend their lives with another person. I think they both kind of thought of themselves as loners, and that maybe, that kind of a relationship wouldn’t necessarily be something they’d experience, and they were able to make it work, you know, that’s a great message too, you know, you may feel sometimes like you have trouble connecting with people, but there is somebody, somewhere, out there, you know, that might make life more fun, you know, if you share it with them.
PITC: Even in a forensics lab!
**JF: **Yeah! *(host laughs) *Even, even in our darkest hours, you know.
PITC: You know, it also seems like you’ve been able to weave some aspects of your personality into Sara, I mean, she’s a vegetarian, right, she’s very-
JF: (laughs) Yeah!
PITC: She’s very involved with animal rights, you don’t wanna- I mean, I’ve seen a few episodes like that you don’t want to work with meat and stuff, and is this something you requested or the writers kinda did?
JF: We did an episode- it might have even been season one, I think- we did an episode, you know, it’s not uncommon in forensics for scientists to use pigs in experiments, primarily because their skin is so similar to humans. So there was an episode where Grissom had gotten himself a pig from the butcher shop and was trying to recreate how long someone might have been dead by watching the pig for several days. And the way he ascertained this was through, you know, what elements, what sort of bugs would visit the body, what time, and he was successful, he was able to recreate how long this poor woman had been dead in a forest, and through that episode, you know, what happened when I got the script, because Sara’s supposed to sit with Grissom over this whole thing, I called one of the writers and I said, “You’re not gonna use a real pig, right? Like, we’re not, please, PLEASE don’t use a real pig” and at that point, Josh Berman, who was one of the writers on the show, said “Why, are you a vegetarian?” and I said, “Well yes I am.” and he said, “Wow, so is my mom!” so he said “Well, let’s make Sara a vegetarian, wouldn’t that be cool?” and I said yeah it’d be great, so it was actually a writer’s idea, and uh, we used that episode as sort of a stepping off point for Sara that after having sat with that poor dead pig for three days that she made a personal change in her life that she wasn’t gonna eat eat anymore, and she wasn’t gonna use animals as experiments.
And we don’t use, you know, obviously, all the dead things on CSI are either real, breathing live people or prosthetic, you know, brought-to-you-by the wonders of special effects, and, uh, special effects make-up people, you know, we used a fake pig, uh, and we’ve reused him two or three times in the show, he’s actually (laughs) he’s ended up being worth his cost.
PITC: (laughs) He brings home the bacon, so we say!
JF: Yeah! Yeah, and I don’t condone using animals for experiments, personally, but.
**PITC: **I have to tell you, I have a friend who works in a forensic lab here in New York, and they say, you know what, wow, I wish that we had some of those things that-
PITC:* (laughs)* I mean it’s- the graphics, and this and that, I mean you guys, although, then again, there were many forensic scientists you’ve given birth to through this show.
JF: Ohhhh, well thank you, that would be nice. Yeah, there was a time about three or four years ago, that we had the best-funded forensics lab in the country. *(host laughs) *And it was sitting on a film stage in LA. Almost all of our equipment is real, and it’s- you know, some of it is donated, some of it’s purchased for the show, and so, you know, I don’t know if that’s as true today, but there was something really sad about that at the time, that Hollywood, you know, has the backing behind it to make that happen, there’s- I think that the forensics world is doing better than it did before the CSI shows, you know, there’s some backlash to that too, in a sense that, you know, people, particularly, they want answers much quicker, you know, they (laughs) they say, “Well yeah, but on CSI they can find out the results in, you know, five minutes” and you have to wait a few weeks, and I think it’s been helpful in court because as forensic evidence is presented, jurors have a better, sort of- it’s been more acceptable to them, so forensics is not something they’re hearing for the first time when they go into a courtroom.
And thank goodness for it, you know, that’s something that’s really come out of, again, really, the last thirty years of science, you know, has made amazing strides, there, you know, there’s a cold case just solved on the news last night of a woman who had killed her kid, I feel like it was-
**PITC: **That’s right, I remember seeing that. And the brother recently just came forward and said- my mother- yeah, yeah. That was sad. No, I-I-I-
**JF: **-put the pieces together.
PTIC: Now on the flip side of that, what I’ve heard, like once in a while a criticism is sort of like “Yeah, but you’re showing criminals exactly what they have to do not to get caught.”
JF: Yes! Yeah.* (host laughs) I think that’s true, and I also think that there’s very, very, very few ways to get away with a crime these days, you know, that window- and criminals will always try to think of ways to outsmart, you know, law enforcement- but in the age that we’re living in right now, it’s pretty amazing at just how little you can actually get away with, you know. And I think the show also shows that* (laughs) Like, oh well, we’re probably gonna arrest you. Very few of (laughs) our criminals actually get off; it happens! I was outsmarted by a twelve-year-old, twice, the same genius twelve-year-old. Uh, you gotta watch those kids, because I think they’re the most ahead of the technology, you know, of anybody.
**PITC: **Oh yeah, let me tell you. You know, my niece, she’s seven years old, she has an iPad, I’m like, you gotta be kidding me.
JF: *Woooow. *
**PITC: **Yeah, yeah, yup, it’s amazing. So listen, I really appreciate you spending time with us, I would be remiss with our pets in this city at Life Radio listeners to not let them know that in addition to all this great stuff about you, you are also a native New Yorker.
JF: I am indeed, yes, and I miss it dearly! There’ve been several times I’ve thought to myself, “Why couldn’t I get on that *CSI *New York?” (laughs)
*PITC: ***(laughs) They don’t- they don’t film that in New York, right? I mean everybody’s-
JF: No, they do the same thing we do, and the same thing that Miami does when they go, you know, four times a year or so and they shoot exteriors, so we-we go to Vegas about four times a year, and that would probably be uh, two more times a year that I’d get to be in the city that I’m in right now, if I’m lucky I get there once or twice a year, and you know, I love it. I was born in New York City-
PITC: Oh! Okay.
JF: And my family relocated to a very, very, very, very small town in Florida when I was three.
PITC: Oh, okay.
**JF: **So I was primarily young in Florida, I had moved back to New York at the age of sixteen, I finished high school there, and uh, my family would go back and forth a lot. My mom was- had only lived in Montreal, and New York, sort of bigger cities, all her life, and had a dream of taking the kids and moving them down to a very small beach town, which is what she did- she would do, but she would also get homesick, often, for New York, so we would just pack it up, she’d take me out of school and we’d go up to New York for a week and a half or so and then come back.
**PITC: **Okay, great.
JF: Yeah, no, I’m a native New Yorker, and uh, my dog, unfortunately, just passed away last week at fourteen.
PITC: Oh, my goodness.
**JF: **She was also a native New Yorker, and my cats were also native New Yorkers.
PITC: I’m so sorry.
JF: Oh, thank you, yeah, it’s been a rough week, but she had a really peaceful goodbye.
**PITC: **Oh my goodness. And what- how do you mean they were native New Yorkers, did you adopt them from here?
JF: Yeah, they were all rescues out of New York, yeah. And then I moved to Los Angeles, I guess about… fourteen years ago now? So they all made the move with me, and adapted, you know, seamlessly, of course, so the weather out here, they loved the idea of having a yard and all that kind of stuff that I didn’t have in New York, so. But my dog- you know, I was living in LA when my dog came- it was sort of a weird rescue, a friend of a friend that had a dog that needed a home, and sort of one of those stories, and the original owner was an actor, so he threw out some auditions, he brought the dog, who was ten months old, and for about the first, I’d say, eight or nine months of her living in Los Angeles, all she wanted to do was walk up and down concrete streets [inaudible]. (host laughs) I couldn’t get her to go hiking, she was- she just didn’t get it, and then as she got a little older she was like, “Oh, I guess this hiking thing’s OK”, you know.
**PITC: **Wow, that’s-
JF: I have had in these last fifteen years or so, two cats; one came out of a shelter in New York City, one came out of a shelter in Brooklyn, and then a Boxer- I was already living in LA- that came out of New York City out to LA to be with me, and yeah, so all three of my pets are from New York, and were all rescues.
PITC:** Wow. And I know you said that you had lost, um, two of them recently.
JF: I lost my dog Ali last Sunday, uh, January 30th-
**PITC: **Awww, I’m sorry.
JF: She was fourteen years and four months young. Um, for a Boxer, that’s a really, really, really long, great life, yeah. She… she was sort of on borrowed time for a few years already, and uh, yeah, I’ll miss her horribly. So I’m recovering from that, I’m sure-I’m sure there will be another dog in my future, but I’m going to take a little and just celebrate her first.
**PITC: **Never gets easier, it never gets easier.
JF: No, no, it doesn’t, and uh, that’s their big joke on us, is that their lifespans are so much shorter than ours, I think* (laughs)* I was thinking, well, maybe I’ll get a turtle, you know, or a parrot (host laughs) Takes them a long time! And, uh, but again, I actually don’t advocate exotic pets as pets for anybody, but you know, I think about it; it’d be nice to have an animal that, you know, would be with me hopefully as long as I have left.
**PITC: **Well, you know, you kinda have by proxy twenty-five lions in Colorado so there you go.
JF: (both laugh) It’s gonna be exciting! I hope everybody will tune into the ADI website; they do a great job of presenting video diaries, you can sort of check updates almost daily, and sort of join along in this adventure and this journey, and um, Jan Creamer’s been in Bolivia for a couple of months already, preparing everything. Tim Phillips, who’s based out of London is now there too, the next time I’ll see them will be at the Denver airport. We imagine February 16, probably sometime around in the day, and, uh, it is a huge undertaking as you mentioned, getting four lions to California was a massive ordeal and the plane had to reload in Panama, so you’re really bringing in three countries. You had Bolivia, you had the country of Panama and the country of the United States, that were all able to coordinate this together, they landed at San Francisco International in San Francisco. Couldn’t have been more amazing, uh, it was an odd request, and not something they get everyday (host laughs) and, uh-
PITC: I would imagine!
PITC: “Excuse me, customs! Uh, what do you have to declare?” “Oh sorry, five lions.” (laughs)
**JF: **Yeah, and you know, there’s pretty strict, you know, wild-life importation laws in the United States and that’s a GOOD thing. But, when you’re actually trying to do something like this, it can be a very complicated procedure, the paperwork alone, the different languages that people speak, as I said, um, it’s quite an ordeal, and one of the coolest things about these twenty five lions is that a couple of them are-had been living in prides already, under these circus conditions, so they’ll be together. As soon as the first lion moved, we were moving three brothers and a sister, and they’ve been together their whole lives, and the transition was actually very smooth, and we believe [it’s because] we didn’t separate them for the entire journey. And so these guys will all go together and the few that didn’t know each other have had a chance to get to know each other, in the last couple of months in the temporary compound, which we’re very grateful to Mayor Hernandez in Santa Cruz for providing the space for; a large, temporary compound for twenty-five lions! (laughs)
PITC: Uh, yeah! (laughs)
JF: That came from Bolivia, and they’ll be bidding them farewell, so, um, it’s gonna be amazing, I mean the wild animal sanctuary in Colorado is a remarkable place, uh, they have three hundred acres and these animals, you know, most of them have never stepped on grass, they’ve never had a pond or a lake to swim around in, their lives will be *drastically *different in a couple of weeks for the better.
PITC: Jorja, can you tell us one more time how our listeners can help, you know, basically really make this a great happy ending and a great new home for the lions?
JF: Yes, please! If you’re inspired or moved, you can go directly to the savethelionsappeal.com or adiusa.org- there will be a link to their site- ADI, also, I believe will be hosting video diaries if you want to find out more or learn more about these lions. They are endangered and they’re incredibly majestic animals, and I think that we need them, and they deserve a nice place to live.
**PITC: **And so we’ll be in touch with you hopefully, you know, in a week or two, and see what’s going on?
JF: Oh, I’d love that!
JF: Yeah, follow up, that’d be great!
**PITC: **Fantastic! Jorja, we really appreciate you visiting with us today, thank you.
**JF: **Oh Diane, thank you so much!
PITC: That was very cool. I really hope that you guys got some good dish from CSI Las Vegas from, of course, the wonderful Jorja Fox who plays Sara Sidle, and we’re gonna check in with her again and see how the lions are doing. We will put all the information she had spoken about how you can help the lions settle in at their new home, up on our Pets In The City On PetLife Radio website, so check that out after you listen.