A Siberian tiger with ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin is being pinned for a series of attacks on goats in northeast China. Fifteen goats were left dead and three missing this week at a farm in Heilongjiang province. Officials said they believed the tiger was one of the tigers released into the wild in May by Putin as part of a conservation effort, according to the Associated Press.
China’s state media said the goat raid occurred Sunday night and that the footprints from the tiger left at the scene belonged to Ustin, one of the five cubs rescued by Russia two years ago. “Our monitoring data and this attack all tell that Ustin is in good physical condition and has a large range of activities,” Chinese wildlife expert Zhu Shibing from Northeast Forestry University told Xinhua.
Officials said the tiger that attacked the goats in northeast China left holes in their skulls the size of “human fingers.” Farmers were warned not to approach the tiger or offer it food. All of the tigers rescued by Russia were fitted with tracking devices for monitoring. Two of the rare Siberian tiger cubs had entered China in October, state media reported. The area where the goats were slaughtered shares a border with Russia’s Amur region. Ustin’s accomplice in the escape to China, a tiger named Kuzya, was previously suspected in an attack on a chicken farm last month, according to CNN.
Putin is often photographed with wild animals, including tigers, as part of an apparent effort to brand himself as a strong leader, as well as to draw attention to conservation issues, CNN reported. The Russian leader reportedly saved a television crew from a tiger attack in 2008 by shooting the animal with a tranquilizer gun. The tiger was said to have escaped from a wildlife park, according to ABC.