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Putin promotes Persian leopard revival at Sochi

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A Persian leopard held by Vladimir Putin during a news conference to promote the Olympic games was not as media friendly as the Russian leader would have hoped when it bit a reporter on the knee during a press conference at Sochi National Park. But that did not stop the Russian leader from trying to promote his country’s attempts to show its environmentally “softer side.”

"We've decided to restore the population of the Persian leopard because of the Olympic Games. Let's say that because of the Olympic Games, we have restored parts of the destroyed nature." Putin told members of the media.

Sochi Park has been the site of a Persian Leopard Breeding and Rehabilitation Center since 2009, when two male leopards were brought there from Turkmenistan. They were later joined by a pair of females from Iran since May 2010. If all goes well, their offspring were eventually be released into the wild in the Caucasus Biosphere Reserve.

Also known as Caucasian leopards, the big cats, which have been extinct in southern Russia since the 1970’s are native to northern Iran, eastern Turkey, parts of western Afghanistan and southern Turkmenistan. However, there are only an estimated 871–1,290 adults left in the wild.

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