These lions are happily adjusting to life in Minnesota.
Taras, Stefania, Lesya, and Prada are four lion cubs born at breeding facilities in Ukraine after Russia invaded the country. The animals were left orphaned a few weeks later, according to Meredith Whitney, the wildlife rescue program manager at the International Fund for Animal Welfare.
“Early on, 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,” Whitney added.
The Wildcat Sanctuary, a nonprofit rescue sanctuary in Sandstone, Minnesota, agreed to take in the four cubs, who needed to get out of the Ukraine, where they were facing drone attacks and bombings, and into a secure home.
Once the IFAW and The Wildcat Sanctuary confirmed the details of the lions’ transport, the animals were moved to Poland and then flown to the U.S., where they landed on Nov. 29.
Since arriving at their new stateside home, the cubs have been busy adapting to their exciting surroundings, including experiencing snow.
After spending a few days adjusting to their heated indoor enclosure at the sanctuary, the cubs, aged 4-6 months, explored the Minnesotan outdoors.
“They are fearless and love to explore every inch of their outdoor habitat. To get them comfortable with their new space, the cubs are chaperoned for outdoor recess to ensure they do well in the snow and in the colder temperatures. They all ran through the snow, climbed the cave, and even ventured over to say hello to the rescue tigers across the way,” Tammy Thies, the founder of The Wildcat Sanctuary, said in a release.
Thies added that lions react surprisingly well to cold temperatures and that the cubs have been enjoying the Midwestern winter — and the sanctuary has adorable video footage of the cubs frolicking in the snow as proof.
The quartet of cubs is never left to the elements. Outside, the little lions always have access to their comfy heated enclosures, which feature heated water bowls and heaps of straw bedding.
“It is so rewarding watching them play and chase each other after their arduous journey and surviving sporadic bombings and drone attacks in Ukraine,” Thies said.
WATCH VIDEO BELOW OF CUBS ARRIVING AT WILDLIFE SANCTUARY: