A sanctuary in Minnesota has agreed to take in four orphaned lion cubs that were abandoned in Ukraine during the conflict there.
For the last three weeks, the Poznan Zoo in Poland has been home to four 4- to 5-month-old lion cubs: a male called Taras and three sisters named Stefania, Lesya, and Prada. The International Fund for Animal Welfare is one of several organizations trying to save animals from the conflict in Ukraine; their arrival on Tuesday marked the end of a long trip.
Animals should not have to go through what these cubs have in their short lives, said Meredith Whitney, the fund’s wildlife rescue program manager. During the conflict in Ukraine, they were born in breeding facilities and then abandoned when they were only a few weeks old.
They have moved to The Wildcat Sanctuary in Sandstone, which is around 90 miles north of the Twin Cities. The Americans were loaded into an aircraft that was flying back to the United States from Poland. It touched down on Tuesday in the Minneapolis–St. Paul area, and from there, the animals were transported to the sanctuary, where a veterinarian examined them and they were given a safe, comfortable place to relax. The Andrew Sabin Family Foundation of New York City contributed to the flight’s cost.
In Ukraine and Poland, the cubs were cared for by Dr. Andrew Kushnir, an American veterinarian with the foundation who accompanied the cubs on their trip. He reportedly produced their unique concoction every three hours despite constant bombings and drone assaults. When the electricity was off, he would wrap his arms and legs over their milk bottles to keep them warm.
Whitney said that there were two litters of cubs. She said that three were saved from Odesa and the eldest, Prada, was born at a breeder in Kyiv. She also said that the rescuers had no idea what happened to the moms.
The four kittens are among the over 130 lions, tigers, cheetahs, leopards, and other wildcats being cared for at the charity Wildcat Sanctuary. Many of these animals were saved from the trade in exotic pets. Instead of putting the cats on display for the public, it keeps them in gated enclosures in the Minnesota woods, where they may live in peace and quiet. You may take a virtual tour of the refuge on its website or Facebook page.