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After being rescued from Ukraine, four lion cubs are coming to Minnesota

All of the cubs were surrendered to animal rescue organizations after Ukrainian officials started enforcing laws on the exotic pet trade.
Credit: Courtesy Andrew Kushnir

SANDSTONE, Minn. — Four tiny lion cubs are on their way to Minnesota, hoping to find a home at The Wildcat Sanctuary (TWS) in Sandstone after escaping the war in Ukraine. 

All of the cubs are younger than four months old, according to information from TWS. Their permits said all of the cubs were surrendered to animal rescue organizations after local officials started cracking down on laws regulating the exotic pet trade in Ukraine. 

“An estimated 200 lions live in private homes and as the war rages on, they face increasingly grim outcomes,” says Meredith Whitney, Wildlife Rescue Program Manager at the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW). “These cubs were in critical need of rescue and we worked with two exceptional organizations in Ukraine to move them to safety as quickly as possible.”

Big cats bred in captivity can't be released back into the wild and can have limited care options available to them. Both TWS and another animal rescue organization in Europe stepped up to provide care for these now-homeless animals. 

IFAW previously worked with TWS to support the transport and care of two white lions rescued from Tiger King Park in the United States. These two organizations plan to continue their partnership to make sure these four little cubs have a safe place to live for the rest of their lives. 

“There was a bit of serendipity in this rescue because we have an enclosure that is specifically designed for a pride of lions and the cubs are a male and three females," said TWS Founder and Executive Director Tammy Thies. "We were thrilled to be able to offer these cubs a beautiful, one-acre habitat together and hope to welcome them home soon."

RELATED: Former 'Tiger King' cats permanently relocated to Minnesota

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