Endangered Species Caught in the Middle of a Political Conflict
Putin has frequently been described as an animal lover, adoring big cats and owning several dogs over the years. In 2008, he got involved in the conservation of the Amur tiger, also known as the Siberian tiger.
Professor Galeotti, speaking on the BBC Radio 4 Putin podcast, aired in April last year, explained that in 2008 “a big deal” was being made about the preservation of the Siberian tiger and naturally “Putin had to get in on the act with a photo op”.
He continued: “There was this splendid Siberian tiger called Serga which had been tranquillised so that it could be fitted with a chip and generally sort of checked before being released.”
A TV crew was on deck to make sure they captured plenty of footage of Putin with the tiger.
But, as Putin arrived, a tiger escaped and ran towards the television crew. The former KGB agent, dressed in camouflage and combat boots, was said to have acted quickly, shooting the big cat with a tranquilliser gun.
He was dubbed a hero, hailed by the Russian media for saving a television crew from being attacked by a wild Siberian tiger. The news was given plenty of airtime.
A presenter told Rossiya television on the evening of the incident: “Vladimir Putin not only managed to see the giant predator up close but also saved our television crew too.”
He then helped measure the teeth of the Amur tiger, which can weigh up to 450kg, and fitted it with a satellite transmitter.
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