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Now it's Putin the bird man: Latest animal stunt sees Russian president take to skies in micro glider as 'chief crane'


Fly away home: Russian President Vladimir Putin flies in a motorized deltaplane to lead young Siberian cranes on their migration path

No mission is too much for former KGB spy turned strongman leader Vladimir Putin as he sets off on his latest bid to put right the wrongs of nature by teaching birds to fly.
Hang-gliding over Arctic Siberia this week, the all-Russian action man guided white cranes which seem to have lost the instinct to migrate south to a warmer climate for the winter.
The aim was to set the endangered birds on course for Asia and as with his previous action-man ventures - which included sedating a tiger, tagging a white whale, and offering tender loving care and a tracking collar to a polar bear - the Kremlin announced total success.

Nice suit, Mr President: Putin kitted up for the flight in a baggy white outfit, gloves and goggles - but sadly no beak

As opposition groups and bloggers mercilessly mocked his flying lesson for birds, Putin's PR machine made clear that after a false start all five juvenile cranes had followed the lead bird - the Russian president dressed in flapping white overalls - and flown for the required distance.
It is hoped the cranes will now fly from Kushavet ornithological research station to Tyumen, further south in Siberia, before taking off for middle Asia and a warm winter.
'For cranes, the parent is a man in a white robe,' explained Yuri Markin, the director of the game reserve. 'They don't remember a particular person. They remember the white robe and hood, or on the ultralight, a white helmet - and a special beak that is worn on the head.'

Watch the birdie: Putin keeps a careful eye on one of the cranes while waiting in a motorized hang-glider

Pictures do not show Putin wearing the beak, probably to avoid yet more vilification from his foes, on the three motorised hang gliding flights he made on the remote on the Yamal Peninsula in the Arctic.
'It is amazing how the birds get used to it,' Putin told state television still dressed in his pilot's outfit of helmet and goggles.
'They do not fear the hang-glider and they overtook it. They are amazing. It's a very good feeling.'
He has been preparing for 18 months, he said, and ahead of the crane-flight he clocked up 17 hours flying the hang glider.

Instant fame: The three-month-old Siberian cranes got their moment of TV glory

Preparing for take-off: Putin (front) sits in the motorized glider at the Kushevat ornithological station, near the city of Salekhard

source: dailymail