Thursday, Feb. 17, 2011

Putin's Tiger

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin may not come across as a big cat lover. But on his 56th birthday in 2008, when he received a two month old 20 pound pet tigress named Mashenka, the world saw the former KGB agent's softer side. The cub spent at least three days sleeping in a wicker basket at his home before being given to a zoo in Southern Russia. Since settling into her new home in the Black Sea resort town of Gelendzhik, Putin hasn't forgotten Mashenka. In 2009, he ensured she got a protein indulgent 10-pound meat cake to ring in the new year. But Putin's love for the endangered species also extends to his political maneuvers. Not only did he bring together 13 countries at a November conference endorsed by WWF last year, but he also raised over $330 million in funds to preserve the soon to be extinct species.