Four lion cubs saved from war in Ukraine land at US sanctuary

American vet fed animals around the clock and used his arms and legs to warm their bottles when there was no power

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Four lion cubs orphaned during the war in Ukraine have landed on US soil after a Minnesota animal sanctuary offered them a permanent home.

Three females and a male, aged between four and five months, had been housed at Poznan Zoo in Poland after surviving bombings and drone attacks in Ukraine.

“These cubs have endured more in their short lives than any animal should,” said Meredith Whitney, rescue programme manager at the International Fund for Animal Welfare, one of several groups working to save animals from the war.

“They were born at breeding facilities in Ukraine during the war and then orphaned at a few weeks old.”

Ukrainians fleeing with their pets - in pictures

Stefania, Lesya, Prada and Taras landed on Tuesday in Minneapolis and were greeted by staff at the Wildcat Sanctuary, then taken to the centre for a check-up and tour of their new home.

The sanctuary is in Sandstone, about 145km north of Minneapolis, and the flight was funded in part by the Andrew Sabin Family Foundation in New York.

Dr Andrew Kushnir, who accompanied the cubs on their flight, cared for them in Ukraine and Poland.

Despite drone attacks and air strikes, Dr Kushnir prepared their special formula every three hours, the fund said.

On nights when the power went out, he used his arms and legs to warm their milk bottles.

The non-profit Wildcat Sanctuary shelters almost 130 lions, tigers, cheetahs, leopards and other wildcats, many of which were rescued from the trade in exotic pets, including the four cubs.

To assure peace and tranquility for the cats, it does not put them on public display, but lets them roam fenced enclosures in the woods of Minnesota.

The sanctuary does offer virtual tours on its website and Facebook page.

Updated: December 01, 2022, 4:26 PM