Tiger Released By Vladimir Putin Swims To China, Could Endanger People

A tiger released into the wild by Russian President Vladimir Putin earlier this year has migrated over the border into China, where a team of officials are trying to hunt it down before it can begin attacking the people living there.

The tiger, named Kuzya, was released in May along with two other Siberian tigers into a remote part of Russia’s Amur region. Chinese officials said they have tracked the 19-month-old tiger as swam across the icy Amur River and entered China’s Heilongjiang Province.

Chinese officials have now set up more than 60 cameras in the region in hopes of locating the tiger. They are also planning measures to keep the tiger from possibly attacking humans.

“But if necessary, we can release cattle into the region to feed it,” Chen Zhigang, director of the Taipinggou nature reserve, told Chinese news agency Xinhua on Thursday.

With fewer that 500 Siberian tigers living in the wild and a high price for the animals on the Chinese black market, there is fear that poachers could hunt down the tiger. For that reason, both Russian and Chinese officials have not disclosed the exact location of the tiger.

Officials say the animal, which has been dubbed “Vladimir Putin’s tiger,” could still choose to head back to Russia on its own.

“There is still hope that Kuzya will be sensible and swim back before the river turns to icy slush,” the newspaper Novaya Gazeta wrote this week.

Vladimir Putin and Russian officials have been working with China to track the animal and ensure that it remains safe.

“We will make joint efforts with the Russian side to carry out protection of wild Siberian tigers which travel back and forth between China and Russia,” Hong Lei, a ministry spokesman, said in a statement.

The escape of Vladimir Putin’s tiger has also made for some comical headlines around the world, with some suggesting that Kuyza could be a spy and others joking that it was trying to escape Putin’s tyrannical rule in Russia.

[Image via USA Today]

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