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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016


Galina only sends out taxis for animals. Small ones, big ones, tame ones, angry ones, crocs, lions -- they are all welcome, although there are a few rules that are best observed.

Do not eat for up to four hours before the journey, no water for two hours before and no munching or drinking once you are in the car.

Zootaxi works out of a clinic near Begovaya metro station. Galina is the voice you hear when you have a sick pet that needs to get to the vet and you'd rather not spoil the car seats with what nervous animals do. If you have ever tried to hold a cat in Moscow traffic, then you may understand why she insists on an empty stomach and bladder.

The anthropomorphized cars are "all gazelles," she said, although more prosaically she may have been referring to Gazel minibuses. The taxis have been specially adapted to carry the poor pets. Bigger animals can be "strapped" into place, and there is still space for three of their doting owners. Smaller animals can be carried in their owners' arms, she said, reassuringly.

The taxi is "big enough to fit a lion," the web site says. A lion inside a gazelle -- rather than the other way around -- makes a nice change, I thought.

The site also has a picture of an old-fashioned yellow taxi with a perky-looking cat perched on its hood, as if he had decided to ride on the outside on the way back from his treatment.

The company has only been going for a few months, but the organizers are already adding more cars to its 24-hour service. It's probably the eye for detail. A free pelyonka, or diaper, is provided to every customer, and if you need any more then they can be had for 50 rubles each.

Their prices start at a reasonable 300 rubles ($9), if you live not too far from the clinic, but can get very high. Let's just say that if you live in Vykhino, it might be cheaper to buy a new pet.

Despite the site's boast about the lion, there have not been any exotic animals, Galina said, although she knows that they are out there waiting.

"Of course, I know people have alligators and crocs as pets, too," she said, completely unfazed.

Alligators came to mind after the appearance of an utterly strange video on the web site of Margarita, a 4-year-old child, riding her parent's baby crocodiles.

The two crocs, Masha and Rita, both look as if normally they would eat infants daily for dinner. But they lie like patient cats as Margarita sits on them and then grabs a jaw as if she wants them to giddy up.

The taxis have only had small reptiles so far, Galina said.