"Pet" leopard found in Russia before house demolished

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Leopard Found in Rechnik as Wrecking Ball Swings

01 February 2010
Combined Reports

A leopard found in Moscow’s Rechnik neighborhood, which the city is demolishing in the face of residents’ protests, will be sheltered as experts determine if the cat is an endangered species from the Far East.

The female cat, raised among humans, cannot be returned to the wild, the Natural Resources and Environment Ministry said in an e-mailed statement Friday.

If it is an Amur leopard, it will be sent to a preserve in Sochi, the Black Sea resort set to host the 2014 Winter Olympics. If it is an African leopard, it will be given to a zoo, the ministry said.

The owner of the leopard was not identified. Rechnik’s residents reportedly include lawmakers, governors, war veterans and celebrities.

City officials began razing houses in Rechnik and evicting residents amid freezing weather in mid-January. Court marshals said the neighborhood was illegally developed on the bank of the Moscow River in a protected area. Residents have appealed to President Dmitry Medvedev, saying they occupied the land legally 50 years ago, and others have filed complaints to the European Court of Human Rights.

The area, which had been built up since the 1950s, will be turned into a city park, Leonid Bochin, Moscow’s land use and environment chief, said in an interview in Rossiiskaya Gazeta, the government’s newspaper of record, on Jan. 25.

Mayor Yury Luzhkov, who defended the demolition, said last week that the adjacent luxury residential complex Fantasy Island would also face destruction because it was developed on land set aside for recreation.



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