In preparation for the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia, Vladimir Putin visited a Persian leopard sanctuary when suddenly a six-month-old cub attacked two journalists. Known for his action in the face of danger, Putin leaped into the fray like an agile cat and subdued the cub by calmly cuddling with it. The journalist suffered minor feline-related injuries. According to the BBC, after the heroic event, Putin said, “I like animals, it seems I have a feeling for them.”
The Persian leopard went extinct in the Caucasus region of Russia in 1970. In 2009, Russia established a captive breeding program in Sochi National Park in order to reintroduce the leopards in the wild. Putin visited the park in an attempt to demonstrate the positive environmental impact of the Olympic Games, which environmentalists have decried as damaging habitats.
Putin is no stranger to the animal kingdom. In 2008, he assisted a group of scientists in tracking and tagging an Amur Tiger. In a similar 2010 expedition, he put a tracking collar on a polar bear. Putin has also ridden horses shirtless, wrestled dogs in the snow, stood next to undisturbed reindeer and flown a flock of Siberian cranes to winter habitats in a glider.