Meet Messi, a 90lb puma who lives in a loving home of Mariya and Aleksandr Dmitriev in Russia.
Would you believe if you hear that someone is keeping puma as a pet, just like our beloved cats and dogs? Well, possibly you would argue all day saying such things can’t happen in the real world because pumas are carnivores, and they have a taste for human flesh.
But this 90lb puma is defying odds, and he’s living in an apartment in Russia.
When Mariya and Aleksandr Dmitriev first met Messi at the Saransk Zoo in Penza, when he was just 8 years old, they decided they wanted him to become part of their family.
At that time, Messi was so cute for his age, and Mariya and Aleksandr couldn’t let him go.
Messi the puma, not the soccer star, had two brothers, and the three cubs were named after famous soccer players to commemorate Russian city for hosting four of the World Cup matches.
The three were named as Messi, Suarez, and Neymar. But when Messi was only three years old, he was sold to a zoo, separating from his brothers.
Unfortunately, the young puma got sick while still young, and the zoo wasn’t able to look after him. So, when the couple visited the zoo, they fell in love with the sick little cub and volunteered to take care of him.
Speaking of Aleksandr’s wish to have Messi, Mariya told the Mirror:
“He always thought about having a lynx- never a puma. It’s hard to explain but we believe that having this puma is part of our destiny”.
“We had three days of thinking hard about whether it was moral to keep a puma, and whether it was common sense to have one. But nothing could fight our sudden wish.”
“So we went to the zoo and started to negotiate to buy Messi. We were surprised ourselves when they agreed.”
Though it was challenging for the couple to take care of Messi, he grew up to two-thirds the average size of a wild puma. The couple even bought a special harness and a coat to take him for walks.
In an interview with RT, Aleksandr said:
“He is like a dog. We started taking him for a walk, step by step. The animal hadn’t been really active before. Now we walk a lot twice a day, as it’s supposed to be. It doesn’t differ much from owning a dog in this sense”.
Messi has even attended dog training school, and he can now respond to about 10 commands.
However, the couple is facing objections from many environmental rights activists who argue that Messi can pose dangers to them and to other people. But, the couple insists the adorable would rather live with them as he’d not survive in the preserve.