Russian President Vladimir Putin completed his latest outdoor publicity stunt on Wednesday by leading the migration of critically endangered cranes. Putin volunteered to pilot an ultralight above the skies of Siberia to help the endangered cranes embark on their yearly winter migration.
According to Russia Today, the birds were raised in captivity at the Kushevat ornithological station in Yamal, Siberia. Due to their artificial upbringing, the cranes need guidance to know when, and how, to migrate south.
The white Siberian cranes needed to be “convinced” that the much larger ultralight was really a crane in order to follow it. This meant that not only the ultralight had to be painted white, but Vladimir Putin even had to don a white jumpsuit in order to mimic a larger crane.
Despite objections and criticism from biologists and political opponents, the flight appears to have been a success. Putin had to say about the flight:
It is amazing how the birds get used to it, they do not fear the hang-glider and they overtook it. They are amazing. It’s a very good feeling.
Putin appeared to have piloted the craft for the duration of the flight, although he did have a senior pilot behind him.
Vladimir Putin has said, and shown, many times in that past that he is an animal lover. The Russian president has had close-up encounters with many of the rarest species in Russia since coming to power. Some of the most notable were with an Amur tiger, a snow leopard, a beluga whale, and a polar bear.
Watch the video of the flight below.