Six lions and six tigers evacuated from near Kyiv arrived at a zoo in Poland on Thursday following a two-day odyssey skirting battle frontlines and coming face to face with Russian tanks, a zoo spokesman said.
A Ukrainian truck drove the animals, along with two wild cats and a wild dog, nearly 1,000 kilometres (600 miles) to the Polish border while avoiding the Zhytomyr region, which the invading Russian forces have bombarded, spokeswoman Malgorzata Chodyla told AFP.
At one point, the truck had to stop overnight opposite Russian tanks.
The driver rested under his vehicle while the owner of the Ukrainian shelter fed the animals because the transport crew did not know how to, the spokeswoman said.
At the border, the animals were transferred to a Polish truck while the Ukrainian driver returned home to his children.
For now, the animals will be cared for at the Poznan zoo.
Zoo director Ewa Zgrabczynska, who helped arrange the evacuation, said she is already in contact with several western organisations that want to take in the animals.
She also launched a fundraising drive as the city of Poznan, which runs the zoo, lacks a budget for the evacuated animals.