this is "nightline." >> tonight, sir cuss act rescue. the husband and wife team on a dangerous global mission to outlaw the use of wild animals in circuses. owners still feature them as star attractions even though here in peru it's now illegal. we are there for the standoff. as a confrontation with one of the last hold utes quickly escalates into a battle of wills. can riot police help pull off this rescue just in the nick of time? with freedom so close the sanctuary still so far away. a race against the clock to get these majestic animals to safety. but first the "nightline 5." >> it's macy's one-day sale
>> you come into peru with your wild animal acts, adi is going to come and get them. >> reporter: animal defenders international is in the middle of a government crackdown. >> they're trying to keep these animals hidden. they select the small towns. the advantage of that is that the authorities won't notice they're there. >> reporter: working with authorities in peru to enforce a new law banning wild animal acs in circuses. >> they should be arrested today if they have the animals? >> yes. >> reporter: we were given exclusive access to the final days of this operation where they face-off against circus owners desperate to hold on to their biggest stars. for tim philips and jan kramer, the husband and wife team behind adi, this seizure operation is the latest front in the global campaign to end animal suffering. >> there's a routine and casual violence towards animals in
circuses to keep them subjugated, keep them in their place. >> reporter: undercover investigations documenting horrific abuses forced government to implement new laws. >> these animals are living in deplorable conditions. people have said enough is enough. >> reporter: wild animal acts are now illegal in peru. joining seven other countries in latin america with bans. >> latin america is way ahead of the u.s. in terms of ending the use of animals in traveling circuses. >> we know the animals are performing. the authorities know they're performing. >> reporter: actually enforcing the law is a whole different challenge. >> we've had them under surveillance now for ten days almost. just watching. >> this circus started up a few years ago with six tigers. >> now only one left? >> one is left. >> that's the one that you're trying to rescue? >> yeah. >> reporter: they have no idea what condition the remaining tiger is in. >> just a block that way. it needs to be a complete surprise. >> reporter: the authorities
have given the green light to move in. >> everything's set? >> yep. we're on. >> reporter: looks very thin. >> really, really thin. >> they don't like the cameras but they said this one can be here. i don't know what has upset them. but it's a very sort of tense atmosphere. we're going to help you, we're not going to help you. >> there's what seems to be a family there or owns or works with the animals and they're visibly distraught, crying. >> reporter: the family tells me the tiger is not just an attraction. where jan sees a malnourished tiger, they see a family pet. >> they say they love the animal but they can't -- it's stressful and difficult for it. >> it's almost a power struggle.
right now they want to release it but they want to release it on their own terms. >> we've never had to threaten an animal. >> don't hit him. >> keep it low, keep it low. >> come on. >> we understand it is difficult. >> frustrating and trying day. but water driving awe ing ing a tiger. and that's really the only thing that matters. >> reporter: but they're not always successful. during an earlier operation, they were forced to leave behind a lion named smith. days later, back in the center ring, he attacked a volunteer from the audience.
and all of it was broadcast on pan-america tv. >> i can vividly remember turning to jan and saying, smith signed his own death warrant. >> reporter: now they rush back. and this time the circus agrees to release the big cat. >> hello, baby boy. >> so this is the lion that attacked the woman? >> yeah. but he's got such a lovely nature. since he's been here, loves playing football, loves attention. he's just really friendly. >> reporter: smith and all the other animals are brought to this temporary compound where they get first-class medical treatment and some much-needed play time. >> about as much as we can do. we give them footballs and toys, try and keep them exercises. try and get the guys to play with them now and again.
here's hoover. >> the tiger. >> he's loving this bed. [ roaring ] >> you hear this? suddenly it's all come alive. they're all communicating with each other. >> i love these old lions that are like warriors. they're sort of indestructible. >> you can see the scars. scarring on his face. >> yeah. >> it's a map of his life, his face. >> reporter: altogether, nearly 70 animals here. and many carry scars that can't be seen. >> they've actually broken his teeth right off. to stop him biting. such a vicious thing to do. >> horrible thing, look at that. wired on. the whole of his life. >> probably on all his life. >> that's the last time, pepe. >> he's been here eight months now. just a lovely, friendly little monk
monkey. he adores jan. i think he likes blonds. >> he'll come really close and press noses. he likes to press noses, it's very sweet. >> reporter: after bonding for months, jan will have to say good-bye soon. the monkeys will be taken to a sanctuary deep in peru's rain forest and the big cats to a reserve in south africa. having seized animals from more than a dozen circuses here, their mission is almost complete. but then they receive some urgent news. a lost circus. one that vanished into the remote northern desert, it's located. >> it's secretive, we haven't been able to get a camera inside. >> reporter: will this key giant holdout threaten adi's entire operation? >> things are started to get heated. >> reporter: a standoff when "nightline" returns. except that managing my symptoms was all i was doing.
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illegal to use wild animals, enforcing the law is another matter. here again is abc's mariannmari >> we need to go as soon as possible. >> reporter: tim philips and jan kreamer are tracking the last defiant circus holding animals illegally in peru. >> we'd seen it once before and it just disappeared. >> reporter: it has just been spotted in the arid outskirts of sulana. >> it's a center for wildlife trafficking in peru. >> drug trafficking too. >> reporter: so remote, so far from the reaches of government, they don't know what resistance they might face. >> you don't have a lot of police support. >> no. >> how many police officers? >> we're getting two today. the stakes are high for the animals. this is their chance for freedom. they won't get another one. >> there's circus trucks. the big top is down. >> they started breaking down. >> reporter: immediately tim spots animals. a condor. a puma. clear violations of the new law.
>> reporter: with a life built around the circus and a mistrust of the government, the owners, the valderrama family, fight back. they see this seizure as injustice. >> they're tense, angry, saying the authorities are coming here and just picking up the animals and are probably going to sell them at a zoo in lima. they're just trying to make a living, they're saying. >> they've asked us to surrender the animals. >> reporter: the family insists they've never done wrong by their animals. >> reporter: the confrontation attracts a crowd. the standoff escalates. >> they've barricaded the mountain lion inside the truck with all these tools from the circus around it.
police and wildlife authorities are outmanned. >> very intimidating. >> reporter: adi may have to leave empty-handed. >> this is just running away from us. >> reporter: hours later, the enforcements arrive. >> a bit like the cavalry coming. i suddenly look up, there's a little truck coming and it's full of riot police. they all jump out. >> reporter: in charge, a local prosecutor sent to uphold the law. >> things are starting to get heated. now the daughter who's pregnant has sat on the truck and she's saying, you have to get over me. they've been negotiating about an hour now. >> reporter: with the possibility of arrest and imprisonment becoming all too real, angry defiance slowly fades. >> they've just completely changed their mind and agree they're releasing all the animals. >> reporter: replaced by sadness as the family says their final good-byes. >> they felt like this animal
was part of their family, almost. >> do you feel empathy for these families? >> i think the empathy i feel for them is that they're losing something they're fond of. but i feel more sorry for the animals. the animals are the ones who are the real victims. >> reporter: but there's no time to rest. the next night, back at the compound, they have just three short hours to prepare the monkeys for travel to their new home. >> could you open the door? >> reporter: a rain forest sanctuary. >> we need to sedate the monkeys and leave by 6:00 a.m. >> reporter: it's a huge undertaking. drugging, capturing, and crating 40 animals. >> i really mate to see pepe vulnerable like this. but it's the least stressful way
to get him into his travel crate. >> don't worry, baby boy. there. all right, brother. all right, brother. >> reporter: the government has donated space aboard a military cargo flight. it's scheduled to leave with or without adi at 10:00 a.m. >> we're running out 30 minutes late now. we're starting to get into a dangerous zone. >> these haven't been tied down! get everything in, we're going to miss our night! >> just got to get these loaded up and get out of here. >> i've just spoken to the loadmaster of the aircraft. we're going to be okay. we're going to catch the aircraft. >> reporter: their destination, the remote jungle city of iquitos. only accessible by plane and by boat.
>> this will be the first time we've seen it with absolutely everything in it. >> reporter: with this return to the jungle, it's not a return to the wild. >> the dream would be to put these animals back in the wild. but you can't do that. they've had torn from them the ability to cope in the wild. that's why we were so pleased to come up here and be able to enclose their own little bit of amazon forest. ♪
>> the sense of wonder that you see on their faces, you can only describe it as they are just amazed. >> freedom. almost freedom. >> kind of bittersweet. obviously we love them. but we have to let them go. and that's the right thing to do. and it has been a really long, hard road. but i can't think of a better ending than to see them be free. that's our happy ending. >> reporter: pepe is hesitant at first. but then seems to relish his new surroundings. for "nightline," i'm in iquitos, peru. >> for more of these nobglobal adventure stories check out our youtube channel, thymes two. how did the nypd become a
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if there's anybody who can give some insight into the fraught relations between police and the public right now, ray kelly just might be the man. tonight the abc news contributor and two-time new york police commissioner reflected on a lifetime spent serving his ever-evolving community and today's game-changers in his new memoir "vigilance." abc's "this week" anchor george stephanopoulos has the exclusive. >> once a cop, always a cop. >> reporter: ray kelly has
walked this beat his entire life. new york street kids to two terms as the city's commissioner. >> this was your precinct? >> i used to work here as a police officer. >> reporter: kelly first became commissioner in october 1992, a few months later -- >> in new york city, a massive explosion beneath the twin towers of the world trade center -- >> it appears that the explosion that occurred was in all likelihood the result of some type of explosive device. >> tell us about that. >> it was a real jolt. nobody anticipated it. should we have? probably. >> could have been so much worse. >> the goal was to have one building go into the other building. that didn't happen but something much more horrific happened in 2001. >> that's your second tour as commissioner. and everything has changed. >> things have changed throughout the world. >> during your ten years, commissioner, the crime rate in new york city came down. a lot of people say it came at great cost. you know the criticism of your stop and frisk approach to
policing. what is your response? >> not everybody liked stop and frisk, i understand that. but if you go into communities of color, they're very much concerned about crime. crime rates are higherer this. they want to be protected. the fact of the matter is the rate here is lower than it was in philadelphia, lower than it was in baltimore. >> just this spring polls show the confidence in police overall in the country, lowest level in 23 years. >> it's a real problem. when you have incidents such as the horrific events that happened in north charleston, south carolina, where walter scott was gunned down by a police officer, these high-profile events set us back quite a ways. >> when you see these protests all across the country saying black lives matter, african-americans say to you, i'm sorry, i just don't believe the police have our best interests at heart, what do you say? >> well, i think you have to work with the communit