After being rescued from Ukraine, four lion cubs have arrived at their new home in Minnesota for "lifelong care."
The young lions include one male named Taras and three females named Stefania, Lesya and Prada, according to the International Fund for Animal Welfare, a global nonprofit that helped rescue the animals. Three of the cubs are 4 months old, and the oldest, Prada, is 6 months old, The Wildcat Sanctuary said in Sandstone, Minnesota.
Before their arrival at the sanctuary, the cubs spent three weeks at Poznan Zoo in Poland, where they recovered from a 36-hour trip from war-torn Ukraine, the animal welfare fund said.
"Their arrival marks the final step in an arduous journey to find peace after surviving sporadic bombings and drone attacks in Ukraine," the fund wrote in a news release Wednesday.
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The cubs, who arrived Tuesday, were placed on plane that was already returning to the U.S. from Poland. They traveled with veterinarian Dr. Andrew Kushnir, who also cared for the cubs in Ukraine and Poland.
The flight, funded in part by the New York-based Andrew Sabin Family Foundation, followed international regulations for transporting animals – such as meeting space and temperature requirements, the animal welfare fund said.
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"These cubs have endured more in their short lives than any animal should," said Meredith Whitney, the fund's wildlife rescue program manager.
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"They were born at breeding facilities in Ukraine during the war and then orphaned at a few weeks old. When (Kushnir) asked us to help rescue the cubs out of Ukraine, we made a commitment to find them a wonderful, safe place to live out the rest of their days together," Whitney said.
The international fund and the Minnesota sanctuary partnered together. The sanctuary, which is home to numerous big cats from all over the world, has a habitat that is specially designed for lions.
Tammy Thies, founder and executive director of the sanctuary, confirmed that the cubs were doing well and enjoying their "forever home" Thursday morning.
"After their long journey, all four cubs were merged and were seen cuddling up together for a much-deserved rest," Thies said in a statement emailed to USA TODAY on Thursday. "This new lion pride will grow up as a family, living wild at heart at the sanctuary the rest of their days."
Thies added that the four are in indoor bedrooms but will soon roam a larger habitat complete with "caves, trees, platforms, and lots and lots of toys!"
Though the rescue partners are grateful that Taras, Stefania, Lesya and Prada have been rescued, the nonprofits note that there's still more to be done to help big cats that are threatened around the world.
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"Nearly every species of big cat must overcome a growing list of threats to their wild existence, in particular, the increasing demand of the exotic pet trade," Whitney said. "We are working with the Big Cat Sanctuary Alliance and organizations like The Wildcat Sanctuary to stop the exploitation of big cats in the US and around the world."
Contributing: The Associated Press
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Lion cubs rescued from Ukraine arrive at US sanctuary in Minnesota