I’ve been waiting to share this news with you for quite some time. A few months ago, IFAW (International Fund for Animal Welfare) asked if we could help Lesya and 3 other lion cubs in war-stricken Ukraine. We knew it would be difficult, but with so many amazing animal warriors on the ground trying to save as many animals as possible, we wanted to do our part.
IFAW reached out to us about Lesya and the cubs because our team is experienced in international big cat translocations, though none during such conflict.
We know with every step forward, there may be three steps back. But seeing the committed individuals on the ground providing rescue and animal care during shelling, sometimes with no electricity or running water, we were determined to help.
Lesya and the other cubs, all younger than four months, arrived safely at the Poznan Zoo in Poland after traveling for 36 hours out of war-torn Ukraine, where they will be cared for until onward transport permits are issued.
They have had a harrowing first few months of life, surviving the recent drone attacks and sporadic bombings in Kyiv. Remembering the first moments caring for Dash, I can imagine how scared the caretakers were for the cubs’ survival.
According to their permits, all of the cubs were surrendered to animal rescue organizations, VetCrew in Odesa and Wild Animal Rescue in Kyiv, after local officials started to enforce laws on 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).
We know there are more bumps in the road to come for Lesya and the others, but we committed to the long journey. Both for the animals, but also for the humans who are dedicating themselves to helping each other and the animals during this very difficult time of war. Our hearts are with them all.
We were thrilled to be able to offer these cubs a beautiful, one acre habitat together and hope to welcome them home in the coming months.
TWS is proud to offer a forever home for these soon-to-be big cats and with your help today, we can rescue and care for more big cats in need!
You can help us fund their forever home by sponsoring Lesya, or any of the cubs, today!
Photo credit: © Holly-Marie Cato and Poznan Zoo
LION CONSERVATION EFFORTS
It’s estimated that there were 200,000 lions roaming Africa 100 years ago. Today, with only 23,000-39,000 mature lions in the wild and ¾ of the population in decline, the African lion is classified as Vulnerable.
The main threats to African lions are human-wildlife conflict and natural prey decline, as well as habitat loss, climate change and wildlife trade.
Lions are trafficked illegally worldwide. Rising living standards in Asia have continued to drive demand for illegal wildlife products, with criminal groups increasingly using social media platforms to sell them.
U.S. Government agencies—including the Departments of State, Interior, Justice, and Commerce, among others—work together to reduce opportunities and incentives for wildlife poachers, traffickers, and sellers to engage in wildlife crime.
Humans are the key cause of the devastating decline of lion populations and with the current rate of poaching and habitat loss, lions could be completely extinct by 2050. We hope, through education, to reverse this trend.