4 Orphaned Lion Cubs from Ukraine Start New Life in Minnesota

Lion cubs who were rescued from the war in Ukraine by the International Fund for Animal Welfare, adjust to their new home at The Wildcat Sanctuary

Lion cubs who were rescued from the war in Ukraine by the International Fund for Animal Welfare, adjust to their new home at The Wildcat Sanctuary

foto: Anthony Souffle/Star Tribune via AP

Four orphaned lion cubs from Ukraine are starting a new life in Minnesota.

The cubs — Taras, Stefania, Lesya and Prada — were flown from Poland to the United States in specially designed wooden crates on Nov. 29, a International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) said Wednesday.

After an 8-hour drive to The Wildcat Sanctuary (TWS) in Sandstone, Minn. the cubs were thenunloaded into a warm indoor enclosure with plenty of food, water and toys,” added the release.

These cubs have endured more in their short lives than any animal should,” Meredith Whitney Wildlife Rescue Program Manager at IFAW, dito em um comunicado.

They were born at breeding facilities in Ukraine, during a war, and then orphaned at a few weeks old,” ela adicionou. “Desde cedo, we made a commitment to these lion cubs that we would find them a wonderful, safe place to live out the rest of their days together. Having worked with The Wildcat Sanctuary on previous big cat rescues, we know they have an incredible habitat waiting for them.

Lion cubs who were rescued from the war in Ukraine by the International Fund for Animal Welfare, adjust to their new home at The Wildcat Sanctuary

Lion cubs who were rescued from the war in Ukraine by the International Fund for Animal Welfare, adjust to their new home at The Wildcat Sanctuary

Anthony Souffle/Star Tribune via AP

The cubs, who are aged from 4-6 meses, spent three weeks receiving care at Poland’s Poznan Zoo before their trip to the U.S., having previously endured a lengthy 36-hour journey out of Ukraine.

While multiple zoos and rescue centers across Europe have accepted lions from Ukraine since Russia invaded in February, none had any remaining capacity, which prompted The Wildcat Sanctuary and IFAW to step in.

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 in a release.

From the moment IFAW reached out to request our partnership, we knew these cubs had found their forever home at our sanctuary. They have a custom, open space to explore and indoor comfy rooms where they can rest their tired bodies after their long journey.

The lions’ 9-hour flight landed at around noon on Nov. 29. Once they cleared customs, the cubs were carefully transported to TWS and released into an indoor quarantine enclosure that provided a warm space to rest.

Lion cubs who were rescued from the war in Ukraine by the International Fund for Animal Welfare, adjust to their new home at The Wildcat Sanctuary

Lion cubs who were rescued from the war in Ukraine by the International Fund for Animal Welfare, adjust to their new home at The Wildcat Sanctuary

Anthony Souffle/Star Tribune via AP

They will get to explore their large outdoor habitat in the next few days,” added the TWS release, which stated that they will also receive a full health check from a veterinarian.

Their arrival marks the final step in an arduous journey. These lion cubs have traveled almost 7,000 miles to finally find peace, after surviving bombings and drone attacks in Ukraine,” TWS continued.

We hope to continue working with IFAW and members of the Big Cat Sanctuary Alliance to save more big cats from war-stricken Ukraine,” added Thies.

Nunca perca uma história - inscreva-se em Boletim semanal gratuito da PEOPLE para receber as maiores notícias da semana em sua caixa de entrada todas as sextas-feiras.

If you would like to assist with the cubsnew life in the U.S. by making a donation or becoming a sponsor parent then go to https://www.bit.ly/SponsorTWS ou www.wildcatsanctuary.org