Happy birthday, Mr Putin, here’s a tiger!

He is famous for his macho stunts — which have included stripping to his waist during a Siberian fishing trip, skiing down a volcano and doing judo.

But on Friday, Vladimir Putin, Russia’s answer to Action Man, went one step further when he showed off his latest birthday present: a rare two-and-a-half-month-old Siberian tiger.

The Russian Prime Minister, who turned 56 on Tuesday, was given the tiger as a present. On Friday he posed with the animal at his dacha outside Moscow, stroking her affectionately.

”It’s the most original present of my life,” he told Russian TV.

Putin refused to say who had given him the female tiger, which is to be called either Mashenko or Milashka.

”She eats meat — two kilos in the morning and two kilos in the evening,” Putin explained, adding that he intended to transfer it from its temporary home in a dog basket to a Russian zoo.

The Siberian or Ussuri tiger is extremely rare, with only between 520 and 550 in Russia. On Friday wildlife experts said they were optimistic the species would survive, adding that the biggest threat was no longer poaching but the destruction of habitat.

”The number of animals is stable,” said Vladimir Kerzer, of WWF Russia. ”We are against having big cats like tigers as animals in the home. They could be dangerous.”

Putin is not the first Russian politician to own a tiger. Ramzan Kadyrov, Chechnya’s pro-Kremlin president, has his own private zoo, which includes tigers, leopards and exotic birds. — guardian.co.uk

Make sense of your world

Subscribe to Mail & Guardian at R10/mth for the first three months. Cancel anytime.

Subscribers get access to all our best journalism, subscriber-only newsletters, events and a weekly cryptic crossword.

Related stories


Already a subscriber? Sign in here


Latest stories

Millions of rand lost as SANDF returns unauthorised Cuban Covid-19...

Remedial action against officials suspected of wrongdoing must be taken, says the ministerial task team investigating the defence department

New year, same rules: The science behind masks, ventilation and...

Wearing a mask, washing your hands, good ventilation and keeping your distance all help to lower your chances of getting infected by the virus that causes Covid-19

Red Cross makes first medical delivery to Tigray since September

The ICRC said the urgently-needed supplies and essential drugs, which were flown in, would be distributed to facilities across Ethiopia's war-torn Tigray

PODCAST: ‘I had R40m debt at 26 – it felt...

Busi Selesho chats to the M&G business journalists and podcast editor about why she became a money coach and shares some tips to financial freedom

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…