NY mogul Andy Sabin put up $50K to rescue lion cubs from Ukraine

They’re fleeing war, but they’re flying like fat cats.

Four lion cubs rescued from Ukraine with the help of a Hamptons mogul are being flown by private jet to the United States.

Andy Sabin — the New York metal refiner who’s also the board president of the South Fork Natural History Museum — has put up $50,000 to rescue the baby lions. The fuzzy fliers will arrive in America via a luxury Gulfsteam G650, and will then be relocated to their new home at an animal sanctuary in Minnesota.

Sabin was alerted to the animals’ plight by the International Fund for Animal Welfare, which is also chipping in $50,000, and he arranged for Flexjet to offer $40,000 of in-kind services to get the cubs, named Prada, Taras, Stefania and Lesya, safely to America. Sabin already has more than 14 different species named after him, including Peruvian amphibian, the Sabin glass frog.

“These are four lion cubs,” explained Sabin, who is an activist for endangered animals. “They were confiscated in Odessa,” and the cubs were apparently being illegally offered up for sale.

“They’re two months old,” Sabin said, adding that the animals “can’t fly cargo because of the temperature.” To help them safely make the journey, he called in Flexjet. The company told Sabin that they could transport the lions as long as they went in “wet crates,” which will keep any accidents along the way from potentially making a mess of the luxe aircraft.

The four cubs Prada, Taras, Stefania and Lesya were confiscated in Odessa.
© Andrew Kushnir
The cubs are being flown to the US on a luxury Gulfsteam G650 jet.
Photo by Urbanandsport/NurPhoto via Getty Images

The flight will carry the cute cargo, plus a vet and a chaperone, Anna Kobylarz of the Polish American Foundation of Connecticut, who was volunteering in Ukraine at the time of the rescue this week and agreed to help out. The cubs are now being checked out at a zoo in Poland before their private plane adventure. We hear they’ll next head to Chicago and then be transported by “heated car” to a sanctuary located 40 minutes outside of the Twin Cities.

Said a source of the cubs, “They’ll be climbing into the fanciest private jet currently on the market with their own flight attendant.” The jet comes with its own in-flight entertainment system, espresso maker, and wi-fi, among other amenities.

The cubs were brought to Sabin’s attention by the International Fund for Animal Welfare.
Holly-Marie Cato
The cubs couldn’t be brought overseas on a cargo plane because of the temperature, according to Sabin.
The lions will be brought to an animal sanctuary in Minnesota.
The cubs will be traveling with a veterinarian and Anna Kobylarz of the Polish American Foundation of Connecticut.
The cubs are currently being checked out at a zoo in Poland.

Along with Sabin, the operation is being overseen by IFAW program supervisor A.J. Cady and director of disaster response Shannon Walajtys, plus Flexjet’s Sara Reilly and Jim Taddeo who helped arrange the trip, we’re told.

Sabin, the head of conservative conservation organization Conserve America, has helped with animal crises stemming from Hurricane Dorian and wars in Libya and Ukraine.

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