Russia: "Pet" leopard sent to wildlife sanctuary

Pet leopard from disputed Moscow village moves to Sochi

14:1012/02/2010

A pet leopard from a disputed rural settlement in Moscow will move to a wildlife sanctuary near Sochi, a south Russian resort on the Black Sea, a local environmental official said on Friday.

The female leopard, Cleopatra, was found in the Rechnik settlement, a rare slice of country life within the confines of Moscow, in late January when the authorities started the demolition of houses claiming they had been built illegally.

Sergei Bobyshev, the leopard’s owner, said that he had bought his cat at a pet market four years ago.

At first he refused to part with his pet. “If they take Cleopatra away, she will die,” he complained. “Once I left her with my friends for a week and she ate nothing, waiting for my return. They want to demolish my house and to take away my pet and my friend.”

Later Bobyshev agreed that Cleopatra would feel better at the special center in Sochi given that he will be unable to keep the cat when his house in demolished.

Russian Natural Resources Ministry Yury Trutnev said that the pet leopard cannot be released into the wild and proposed that she be sent to the wildlife sanctuary in Sochi National Park, which was inaugurated by Prime Minister Vladimir Putin in September 2009.

Two leopards given to Russia by Turkmenistan currently live in Sochi and Cleopatra will join them on Friday afternoon.

SOCHI, February 12 (RIA Novosti)

http://en.rian.ru/Environment/20100212/157857140.html

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Learn more about big cats and Big Cat Rescue at https://bigcatrescue.org

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