Four lion cubs rescued from Ukraine were transferred from Poland to a sanctuary in Minnesota, on Tuesday, according to a statement from the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), a global nonprofit animal rescue organization.
The four cubs — a male and three females — were born during the war in Ukraine in breeding facilities and orphaned at a few weeks of age, according to the International Federation of Women.
“These cubs have suffered more in their short lives than any animal should,” said Meredith Whitney, IFAW Wildlife Rescue Program Director.
According to the statement, the cubs have survived intermittent bombing and drone attacks in Ukraine.
After a nine-hour flight, the Cubs landed at Chicago O’Hare International Airport at noon local time on Tuesday. Once they were cleared through customs, they were met by care staff from The Wildcat Sanctuary to take them from the airport to the sanctuary in Sandston, Minnesota, the release said.
According to the release, the cubs will now live together as pride at the sanctuary, which includes a specially designed habitat for the lions.
“From the moment IFAW reached out to request our partnership, we knew these cubs had found a permanent home in our sanctuary,” said Tammy Theis, founder and CEO of Wildcat Sanctuary. “They have a designated area open to explore and soft grass or hay to rest their weary bodies.”