Siegfried and Roy … and Putin?

Leopard cozies up to Putin, then attacks two reporters

  • Share
  • Read Later
Alexei Nikolsky / AFP / Getty Images

Russia's President Vladimir Putin holds a leopard cub on his lap as he visits the Persian-leopard breeding and rehabilitation center in the Russian city of Sochi on Feb. 4, 2014

Few things make Russia’s stone-faced leader smile quite like a cuddly, warm animal (see his past encounters with a shepherd dog, a baby moose and a walrus), but Vladimir Putin’s latest snuggly photo op, this time with a Persian leopard, turned ugly when one cub went into attack mode.

According to the BBC, a Russian television broadcast showed Putin holding a Persian leopard in his lap. “I like animals,” Putin said. “It seems I have a feeling for them. We liked each other.” A cub named Grom, however, didn’t have much affection for the reporters inside of the cage. The cub scratched one reporter across the hand and bit another on the knee as Putin tried to calm the agitated animal.

Putin used the animal encounter, at least the friendly part, to promote an Olympics-inspired conservation program.