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One year Anniversary for Lion Cubs Rescued from War-stricken Ukraine – You won’t believe how big they’ve gotten!



(Sandstone, MN – November 14, 2023) – Just one year ago, four young lion cubs rescued from Ukraine made national headlines as they arrived at their forever home – The Wildcat Sanctuary.

At just weeks old, male lion Taras along with females Stefania, Lesya, and Prada, were rescued from the wildlife trade in Ukraine.  They arrived at just 25 pounds. A year later, they each weigh close to 250 pounds!

The Wildcat Sanctuary’s Executive Director Tammy Thies said, “They were born into the wildlife trade in Ukraine during a war, orphaned and left on a train at a few weeks old. We made a commitment to these cubs early on that we’d provide them a safe place to live out the rest of their days together. And we’ve done just that.”

Now over a year old, the cubs are still together as a pride. They’ve grown leaps and bounds and Taras, the male lion, has just begun to grow his mane.

Even though they may look like adult lions, these cubs still enjoy roughhousing and chasing each other.

Thies says, “It warms my heart to see them safe at sanctuary and so happy and healthy.  But their rescue is bittersweet. The war is still going on and there are more animals and humans who still need our help.  The cubs are a symbol of hope and what we can accomplish when we all work together.”

The public is invited to join an online celebration featuring the pride on Thursday, November 16th at 10:00 AM CST at:

This Give to the Max Day, the public can help the Ukraine pride by sponsoring one of the lions at or making a general donation to their care at

Donors of $100 or more receive a PAW PRINT and PHOTO CARD from rescued Ukraine lion, Taras.  And all donors are entered into a drawing to win a visit to the sanctuary and one-of-a-kind gifts made by the lion pride.


About TWS (The Wildcat Sanctuary) – The Wildcat Sanctuary (TWS) is the only accredited, non-profit sanctuary in the Midwest. TWS provides a natural sanctuary to wild cats in need and inspires change to end the captive wildlife crisis. Combining natural and spacious habitats with a life free of exhibition, TWS allows all residents to live wild at heart. As a true sanctuary, TWS does not buy, breed, sell or exhibit animals. TWS is accredited by the American Sanctuary Association and the Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries. More information can be found at

Video of the cub’s rescue:

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