WASHINGTON - Four young lion cubs rescued from war-torn Ukraine by the International Fund for Animal Welfare and brought to Poland finally arrived at a sanctuary in Minnesota where they will receive lifelong care.
The IFAW said the four cubs, named Taras, Stefania, Lesya and Prada, are all four to five months old and spent the past three weeks at the Poznan Zoo in Poland, where they received care after their journey out of Ukraine.
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"These cubs have endured more in their short lives than any animal should," Meredith Whitney, Wildlife Rescue Program Manager at the IFAW, said in a statement. "They were born at breeding facilities in Ukraine during the war and then orphaned at a few weeks old."
Zoos and rescue centers across Europe reported being at capacity after accepting several lions from Ukraine during the war. The Wildcat Sanctuary and IFAW partnered to ensure the lion cubs would have a place to live together for the rest of their lives.
Finding their ‘forever home’
"We've cared for 300 big cats at TWS and are acutely aware of the trauma many big cats around the world experience," said Tammy Thies, Founder and Executive Director of TWS. "From the moment IFAW reached out to request our partnership, we knew these cubs had found their forever home at our sanctuary.
Thies said the sanctuary has a custom, open space for the cubs to explore and soft grass and hay to rest on.
The cubs' flight to the U.S. was partially sponsored by the Andrew Sabin Family Foundation, which connected the IFAW to a company that would fly the cubs over from Europe.
Dr. Andrew Kushnir, who the IFAW said was a pivotal part of the cubs' rescue, care and transport out of Ukraine, was onboard the flight with the cubs to the U.S.
The cubs arrived on Nov. 29, and TWS staff brought them to the sanctuary to a warm, indoor quarantine enclosure after clearing customs.
Now, Taras, Stefania, Lesya and Prada have a bright future ahead as they live their best lives together at the sanctuary.