The invasion of Ukraine by Russia back in February not only alarmed the diplomatic and political communities of the world, but also those concerned about the lives and wellbeing of animals as well. Some of the people and groups, such as Petya Petrova, rushed to the Ukrainian border to help as best they could with the massive influx of refugees fleeing the fighting, many of whom brought animals with them. Such efforts have continued throughout the war and as the armed forces of Ukraine have gradually liberated Ukrainian territory from the Russians.
Since the start of the war, more and more information has come to light of how the violence has been inflicting suffering on animals, and not just those that are domestic pets, but also farm animals and wildlife as well. Indeed, UAnimals has worked to bring to light more information on the rights violations being inflicted on the animals of Ukraine.
Despite the sadness and stories of failures, the efforts of Ukrainians and others have led to successes as well. The latest story is of four new Ukrainian refugees making their way to The Wildcat Sanctuary in Sandstone, Minnesota: four orphaned lion cubs who survived drone and bombing attacks by Russian forces.
The lion cubs Stefania, Prada, and Lesya, as well as a boy cub named Taras, successfully made the 36-hour journey from Ukraine to Poland’s Poznan Zoo where they spent nearly a month recovering from their ordeal before ultimately flying on to Chicago and then taken to their new home in the United States, located in Minnesota. Though this story represents a success, it has been speculated that the circumstances surrounding their being found in Ukraine indicated all four cubs were involved in being trafficked by those involved in the illegal exotic pet trade in Europe. Indeed, three of the cubs were apparently found inside a cardboard box at train station located in Odesa, Ukraine, while the last cub was surrendered to a wild animal rescue group working in the capital of Ukraine, Kyiv. Regardless of the circumstances, the fact remains that these lion cubs are now safe and being taken care of at the sanctuary in Minnesota, which has cared for roughly 300 big cats, and is funded by the Andrew Sabin Family Foundation, which also helped find and fund a way for the cubs to be flown from Europe to the United States.
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