MOSCOW – There's no doubt what Vladimir Putin's favorite birthday present is this year — a rare Ussuri tiger cub.
State television showed the Russian prime minister affectionately petting the two-month-old female cub on Friday. The tiger weighs only about 20 pounds and sleeps in a wicker basket at Putin's residence outside Moscow.
Putin says a good home will be found for the tiger, presumably in a zoo or wildlife preserve. He hasn't decided what to call her, but is leaning toward Mashenka or Milashka.
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Putin refuses to say who gave him the cub for his 56th birthday, which was Tuesday.
The Ussuri tiger is also known as the Siberian, Amur or Manchurian tiger. Fewer than 400 are believed to survive in the wild.