Tim Phillips

Lion Ark director Tim Phillips looking through the camera

Meet Filmmaker

Tim Phillips

Director of the award-winning feature documentary Lion Ark, about the rescue of every circus animal in Bolivia by Animal Defenders International after ADI secured a ban on animal acts. Currently working on a new series ‘Freedom Roars’ about major rescue operations to empty circuses of animals following circus bans in Peru, Colombia and Guatemala.

After premiering at Raindance Film Festival and the California Film Institute’s Mill Valley Film Festival, Lion Ark took the film festival circuit by storm, officially selected at over 20 prestigious film festivals, including Cinemambiente, Environmental Film Festival, Turin, winning awards at 11 of these, and often having extra screenings added. Lion Ark has since been broadcast in over 40 countries (including on Discovery and Animal Planet throughout Latin America). Now, for the first time, Lion Ark will be available to stream in the USA, UK and worldwide.

Lion Ark is an entirely live action documentary filmed as ADI’s incredible rescue mission unfolded to enforce Bolivia’s ban on animals in circuses. No one had ever attempted an operation like it before, tracking down and raiding circuses all over the country, caring for and treating the animals in temporary holding, and then relocating them to new lives. Tim decided to capture the historic mission with cameramen Mark Whatmore and Tony Pattinson, filming on Red, giving it a truly cinematic feel. Interviews were captured as the action unfolded, giving a dynamic, live feel, instead of people recounting past events.

The result is more akin to an action-adventure film than a traditional documentary, with the viewer being right at the heart of the action. It is also that rare thing, a documentary with laugh out loud moments and really happy ending. It was the first animal rights film to be nominated for Outstanding International Motion Picture by civil rights organization the NAACP, because of the way so many different people pulled together to help the animals.

Tim Phillips co-founded, with Jan Creamer, Animal Defenders International (ADI), with offices in Los Angeles, London, Lima, Bogota and the 455-acre ADI Wildlife Sanctuary in South Africa, home to rescued lions and tigers.

Tim has campaigned against animal cruelty for 40 years, including going undercover to film inside animal laboratories, animal dealers, wildlife markets, factory farms, fur farms, slaughterhouses, and circuses.

Author and editor of numerous reports, he has worked on animal legislation and addressed governments worldwide. After securing his first local animal circus ban in the early 1980s, Tim has played a key role in over 40 national bans on animal circuses in Europe, Asia and Latin America.

Tim and Jan’s efforts secured the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species rules on cross-border movement of live animal exhibitions (effective in over 180 countries) and the European Parliament declaration leading to Europe banning experiments on apes and wild-caught monkeys and restricting primate use. He has helped secure bans against cosmetics testing on animals in the UK, Europe and Colombia, and fur farming in the UK.

Tim has undertaken complex rescues and relocations of animals in the UK, US, Europe, Latin America and Africa, including huge operations to enforce circus bans in Bolivia, Colombia, Guatemala and Peru, raiding circuses and rescuing the animals – airlifting as many as 33 lions on one aircraft.

He previously ran video production company Thinker Ltd producing videos for numerous animal protection organizations, receiving an award for Creative Excellence from the US Industrial Film & Television Awards.

Documentaries include: Toto Goes Home (Artivist Selection Los Angeles & London); Big Cat Rescue; The Ugliest Show on Earth; An Important Role Working With Animals (Creative Excellence US Industrial Film & Television Awards); HMS Dido Under Cordite Skies.

Updated and re-mastered versions of Toto Goes Home (story of the rescue of a circus chimpanzee in Chile and his journey home to Africa) and Big Cat Rescue (about lion and tiger rescues in Mozambique and Portugal), will all be coming to EarthStream.

Tim Phillips’s Film

Lion Ark

More action adventure than traditional documentary, Lion Ark follows the world’s most ambitious and daring animal rescue, with a narrative compiled from film, interviews, conversations and reactions as events unfolded. How attitudes to animals were changed in Bolivia, illegal circuses pursued and closed, and 25 lions airlifted to freedom.

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Non-Profit supporting Lion Ark

Animal Defenders International

Animal Defenders International is behind some of the biggest and most dangerous large scale animal rescues in the world, with daring undercover missions to expose the suffering of animals. Active worldwide to end animal suffering, ADI’s undercover investigations inside laboratories, circuses, animal traffickers and Hollywood animal trainers, have led to prosecutions and new laws to protect animals. Bans on all, or wild animals in circuses have been secured in almost 50 countries. In Bolivia, Peru, Colombia and Guatemala, ADI has been called in to help government wildlife officials enforce the bans and empty the cages. The ADI team tracks down illegal circuses wherever they go, facing threats and abuse as they take the suffering animals to a new life. These rescues often include large-scale relocations of animals – flying over 50 monkeys to forest sanctuary habitats or 33 lions from Peru and Colombia to South Africa. ADI cares for many of these circus survivors in their 455 acre sanctuary in South Africa, where lions and tigers roam huge natural enclosures – the lions, who once lived in cages the size of double beds, enjoy something of the life they were meant to live. ADI also cares for monkeys and bears in the natural homes in Latin America. All the animals have incredible stories of survival. ADI was founded in 1990; is a US 501(c)(3) non-profit; a registered charity in the UK and South Africa; has offices in Colombia and Peru. Winner of a 2021 Great Non Profit Certificate.

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