Vladimir Putin shakes hands with a walrus

In just another day for the Russian president, he is filmed meeting a walrus, feeding dolphins and overseeing the transfer of a pair of tigers

Adam Withnall@adamwithnall
Monday 02 September 2013 11:53

Any other leader embroiled in the international crisis that is Syria might have postponed an outlandish photo-call at an enormous oceanarium.

Not Vladimir Putin, though. The Russian President pressed on with the important duty of shaking hands with a walrus, at least reaffirming diplomatic relations with the animal kingdom.

Mr Putin even took the opportunity to break his normally icy demeanour, finding it impossible not to laugh as the giant sea creature covered its face with a flipper in a display of apparent surprise during the meeting.

Also requiring the president's attention was the largest indoor dolphin enclosure in the country, where he rolled up his sleeves and got stuck in to feeding the animals as a reward following their performance.

And Mr Putin was called in to keep a close eye on monitors while two tigers were transferred into a new pen outside.

The centre on Russky Island near eastern Vladivostok will welcome its first public visitors next year, and seemed to receive the approval of the country's leader.

The appearance will have been a moment of light relief for the administration, which has been touring Russia's far east in order to assess the damage from and meet the victims of the devastating floods which recently hit the area.

The aquatic centre itself also has a serious side. Near the new campus of the Far Eastern University in Vladivostock, it will play a key role in teaching the next generation of Russian biologists and oceanographers.

Nonetheless, this was not the first time Mr Putin took time away from seemingly more serious matters to stage an elaborate photo opportunity.

He was famously filmed riding shirtless on a horse, helped to treat sedated tigers and polar bears (not at the same time), featured in an instructional martial arts video, and even appeared in a staged sub-aquatic archaeological discovery.

Putin touches a dolphin during his visit to the oceanarium
Putin feeds a horse during his vacation in the Republic of Tyva
Putin (right) and scientists examining a polar bear
Putin throws a Japanese judo expert at Kodokan in 2000

Putin fixes a GPS transmitter onto a tiger in August 2008

Click here to see more Putin photo-call highlights.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

View comments