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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016


Remember Masha, the 6-month-old Siberian tiger cub a wealthy businessman from Vladivostok kept in his back yard? The Moscow Times wrote about Masha in February 1999, shortly after Pavel Samolianov, a man of means with a love of tigers, took Masha into his home.

The 38-year-old Samolianov, who lives in the wooded outskirts of Vladivostok, built an outdoor steel cage with enough crawling space to cover an entire house. But these safety precautions did not satisfy his neighbors, some of whom were edgy about living next to a carnivore. They called the police, who came to collect the cub.

However, within a day Samolianov, who had permission to keep the cat at home, got Masha back. But, according to the entrepreneur, that one day in captivity proved to be fatal for the cub. The smoked sausage the police fed her had such a profound effect on her digestive system that, in spite of repeated abdominal operations to correct the problem, Masha had to be put to sleep last month.

Siberian tigers like Masha are extremely rare. According to state statistics, there are an estimated 400 Siberian tigers in the wild and some 500 in captivity.

This May, two regions in the Far East, Primorye and Khabarovsk, did agree to take joint action to help preserve the Siberian tiger. So far, however, their intentions are only on paper. In the meantime, Samolianov, while he is still mourning the loss of his Masha, has every intention of going on with his work. This time he wants to take in two cubs.

f Tatyana Patina