Tag: Russia

Spectacular Tigress Image Wins Wildlife Photo Of The Year

A photo of a tigress hugging a tree in Siberia has won the prestigious Wildlife Photo Of The Year from London’s Natural History Museum.

Photographer Sergey Gorshkov beat out almost 50,000 other entrants with his winning photograph, taken in Land of the Leopard National Park, a large reserve for tigers and leopards in Far East Siberia.

Gorshkov set up his camera facing a tree that already had claw marks, signaling that it’s been used as a territorial marker by at least one of more than 30 adult tigers in the park.

Sure enough, a tigress stopped to claw new marks on the tree and rub her scent on it, which is the same behavior we see with house cats when they rub on objects — and people — in the home. Cats have scent glands on their faces and paws which allow them to mark objects with pheromones. It’s a cat’s way of leaving a “sign” saying “This is mine.”

The photo has an ethereal quality, with the tigress and tree illuminated by shafts of sunlight poking through the canopy of the ancient forest.

Wild and free Siberian Tiger!

An announcement from the park’s staff describes the scene:

The photo titled “Hugs” shows the moment in which the rarest Amur tiger hugs a century-old fir to mark the target tree with its scent. Sergey Gorshkov, with the support of professional guides from Land of the Leopard, took a picture using a professional camera with a motion sensor.

“This is a scene like no other, a unique look at an intimate moment deep in a magical forest,” said Rose Kidman Cox, chairwoman of the contest’s jury.

The photo “inspires hope” for the endangered Amur tiger, Cox said. In addition to the 30-plus tigers, Land of the Leopard National Park is also home to at least 10 tiger cubs and almost 100 leopards.

Gorshkov’s photo wasn’t the only feline winner this year. “When mother says run,” a photograph by China’s Shanyan Li, shows a trio of Pallas’ cubs with their mother “on the remote steppes of the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau in northwest China.” The photograph won in the mammalian behavior category.

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A Cat Mixed With A Koala?

Thanks to a Russian artist with a skilled hand at Photoshop, we now have an answer to a question no one asked: Can other animals be improved by catifying them?

The answer is yes, at least for the furry ones.

Like this KoalaCat:

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This moncat. Or macatque:

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Credit: Koty Vezde

This cabbit:

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Credit: Koty Vezde

This not-very-amused looking ceep (shat?):

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Credit: Koty Vezde

And this Canda, or Pancat:

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And finally this Cedgehog:

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Credit: Koty Vezde

The artist, Galina Bugaevskaya, posts her creations to an Instagram account she created and dubbed Koty Vezde, Russian for “Cats Are Everywhere.” The 29-year-old is based in Moscow and, not surprisingly, she has her own feline overlords.

Visit Bugaevskaya’s Instagram and VK pages to see more.

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Credit: Galina Bugaevskaya

Evil Russian Cats Unleash Purrpaganda Campaign Against Buddy, Sources Say

A shadowy group of Russians are behind a complex and nefarious plot to discredit Buddy, sources allege.

The Russian operatives were behind the recent Time magazine snub in which Buddy was ludicrously excluded from a top 10 cat list, several cats with knowledge of the operation meowed on condition of anonymity.

Deep-cover Russian agents have also worked to sully Buddy’s reputation as a heroic American feline by seeding social media with anti-Buddesian sentiment and viral content.

One Youtube video purports to show Buddy running terrified from a vacuum, but a spokesman for Buddy said the Russians used a similar-looking silver tabby to film the fabricated incident.

“The Buddy double was convincing, but anyone can see for themselves the cat in the video isn’t muscular enough to pass for His Grace,” spokesman Purrcy Pressman told reporters. “Vladimew Pootin and the Russians are underestimating the intelligence of the everycat if they think kitties will believe Buddy would run from a vacuum.”

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Credit: Alexander Zavaliy

Allegations of Russian involvement weren’t a surprise to feline officials, who blame the KGB (Kitty Gaslighting Bureau) for most of the salacious rumors circulating in the feline world over the past five years.

Those same KGB agents were responsible for tabloid stories that alleged Streetcat Bob’s name was found in a little black book when the FBI — Feline Bureau of Investigators — raided a purrstitution ring in November, sources say.

“These Russians are dangerous,” National Security Adviser Saul Berenson said. “Just look at what they did to Carrie Meowthison, one of our best agents. Buddy would do well to keep a low profile for the time being.”

Yvgeny Groomov, a spokesman for the Russian embassy, denied the allegations, but nonetheless said the KGB was in possession of kompromat that could destroy the reputations of famous American felines.

“Buddy is like small child, he is insignificant to Motherland,” Groomov said. “Real story is about how Americans are always using Russia as scapecat for all things going wrong. We say to the Americans, thank you for allowing us live in your heads free of rent.”

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Credit: Alexander Zavaliy

Cat Caught Smuggling Drugs Into Russian Penal Colony

Apparently some criminals in Russia avoid jail sentences and are sent instead to penal colonies, which are closed compounds resembling Laconian communes instead of prison blocks.

And apparently using cats to smuggle drugs into penal colonies is a favorite pastime among the Russkies — every few months a new story hits the headlines, detailing doomed drug delivery operations using kitties as couriers.

The latest comes to us courtesy of Tatarstan, where an inmate’s non-incarcerated confederates withheld food from a cat for a few days, then slipped hash in a hidden sleeve in kitty’s collar before setting him loose near the penal colony.

The hungry cat headed toward the compound where an inmate was presumably waiting with pungent chow to lure his unsuspecting mule. But guards realized there was something odd about the cat, and after a short chase around the grounds they were able to corner the purrpetrator, according to the BBC.

Here’s the sneaky tortoiseshell immediately after penal colony guards intercepted him in late October. He doesn’t look happy that he’s been caught and he’s missed some meals:

Russian cat gets caught carrying drugs
Can we get some Friskies for this guy already?

Meanwhile in the city of Novomoskovsk a case against a local inmate is on the brink of collapse after the cat who allegedly delivered drugs to him managed to escape from custody.

The slippery kitty was allegedly an accomplished mule when authorities nabbed him and found heroin in his collar. Three witnesses told prosecutors the tabby was a reliable enough courier that his owner, Eduard Dolgintsev, took regular drug orders for other inmates, per Russian media reports.

Wanted: Russian drug mule
WANTED: Dmitry the Deliverator, on charges of delivering smack to Russian inmates and talking smack to Russian prosecutors 

The defense isn’t buying it.

Dolgintsev’s attorney told Russian newspapers he wanted to run experiments to see if the cat really would make reliable runs to and from the penal colony, hoping to demonstrate to the court that the idea was more fanciful than feasible.

The cat, who was considered evidence in the case, was kept in a “secure location” in a petting zoo facility, but when Dolgintsev’s attorney went there to check on the feline he was told it had slipped custody earlier, when staff let it out of the enclosure to get exercise and two dogs began creating commotion.

With the kitty’s dramatic escape, the case against the inmate looks shaky. A Russian legal expert told Kommersant.ru that the case would be dismissed unless “proof was previously obtained that the cat really did serve as an instrument in the crime.” Proof like lab test results showing traces of heroin on the his fur, for instance.

In the meantime, a very interested Buddy is wondering if the same method could be used to smuggle catnip and silvervine into The Big House, aka Animal Control…

Drug smuggling cat
This photo shows the Houdini of Novomoskovsk before he hightailed it out of his holding pen.

Man’s Elaborate Plan To Smuggle Fat Cat On Flight Backfires

Mikhail Galin loves his cat Viktor, that’s for sure.

The 34-year-old Russian and his feline flew from Riga, the capital of Latvia, to Moscow without any incident on Nov. 6, but when Galin checked in for an 8.5-hour flight to his destination in Vladivostok, he was told Viktor was too fat to fly in the cabin.

Officials from Aeroflot — Russian Airlines — told Galin there was an 18-pound limit for companion animals checked into the cabin, and at 22 pounds, the chonktacular Viktor was just too much chonk to hang with his human in business class. Instead, Viktor would have to tough out the long flight in cargo.

But Viktor was already stressed from traveling, and Galin wouldn’t take the flight without the cat by his side.

“I was very worried that during the duration of an eight-hour flight, something would happen to him in the cargo and he wouldn’t survive the trip,” Galin told the Washington Post.

When he couldn’t persuade Aeroflot to let him board with Viktor, Galin turned to social media for help and found a couple sympathetic to his cause. Their cat, Phoebe, looked like a miniature Viktor.

Galin booked a business class ticket, met up with the couple at Sheremetyevo Airport in Moscow, and presented Phoebe as the cat he was taking with him on the flight. After airline employees weighed Phoebe and waved Galin forward, he and his new friends switched Viktor back in for his smaller body double and parted ways.

The plan worked beautifully and Galin would have gotten away with it if he hadn’t celebrated the successful swap on social media. He couldn’t resist the temptation and posted photos of Viktor on the flight: One shows the chubby cat peeking out of his carrier next to a glass of champagne, while another shot has Viktor in Galin’s lap, man helping cat enjoy a bird’s eye view.

Mikhail Galin and Viktor
Viktor takes a liking to business class.

The post went viral, an unamused Aeroflot got wind of it, and after an investigation the company docked Galin almost 400,000 frequent flier miles, his entire stash. It also booted him from its bonus miles program entirely.

“The law is harsh, but it is the law,” Galin told NBC News, repeating a stoic Russian maxim about punishment. “I violated the rules, and the carrier has every right to take action.”

Thankfully the result wasn’t all bad and Galin was rewarded for his loyalty to his cat. He told the Post several cat food companies had offered a year’s worth of food free for the flabby feline, and other transportation companies offered free use of their services.

While one politician called for Aeroflot to relax its rules on pet weight, the government wisely stayed out of kitty affairs.

“I don’t believe the Kremlin can or should comment on a situation involving a cat,” a spokesman for Vladimir Putin deadpanned.

As for Viktor, he’s made it clear he expects the same level of comfort next time he flies.

“He liked business class a lot better than economy class,” Galin said, “because he considered himself superior.”

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Viktor 11,214 snacks ago.