Would you believe it if someone told you that a puma lives among humans? You’d probably think anything like that can’t happen. Pumas are carnivores who are unlikely to coexist with people, posing a risk to human life.
Messi, the 90-pound puma, would be an exception to this rule, as he already lives in Russia with Mariya and Aleksandr Dmitriev. Messi and the couple met in the Saransk Zoo in Penza, Russia, when Messi was just eight years old. He was quite attractive for his age, and the couple decided to adopt him.
Messi had two siblings who were born at the same time as him and were named after renowned soccer players in honor of the Russian city hosting four of the world cup matches. Messi, Suarez, and Neymar were the names given to the three of them, and Messi was sold to the zoo when he was just three months old.
Image credits and more info: l_am_puma
He had been unwell since he was a baby, and the zoo was unable to care for him. The pair subsequently chose to have Messi, and Mariya told the Mirror that Aleksandr had expressed his desire to have Messi.
“He’d always wanted a lynx, never a puma,” she said. It’s difficult to describe, but we think that this puma is a part of our fate.”
“We spent three days debating whether it was moral to maintain a puma and if it was practical to have one. Nothing, however, could stop our impulsive yearning.
So we went to the zoo and began negotiating for Messi’s purchase. When they agreed, we were shocked as well.”
Taking care of this enormous puma, though, was quite difficult for the pair. He was naturally wild and extremely frail, necessitating a great deal of care.
Messi, however, grew to just two-thirds the size of an ordinary puma after being rehabilitated, which was still a large size when compared to other pets.
Mariya and Aleksandr purchased an unique harness and coat for him to use on walks, and Aleksandr told RT in an interview,
“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 is now able to respond to around ten orders after the pair found a dog training school that would accept him.
“He convinced us with his conduct that he is a complete member of our family and that he wouldn’t do anything terrible save some minor mischievous things,” Aleksandr adds. He is a really kind person who enjoys making eye contact. He gets along with everyone.”
Aleksandr has started documenting their life with Puma, and the public is enamored with his posts. They have over 500k followers on Instagram and over 175k subscribers on YouTube under the handle @I am puma.
The couple has gone to great lengths to provide Messi with a pleasant habitat, including converting their corridors into Messi’s cave complete with a tree, hiding hole, and bamboo wall.
According to Aleksandr, , “He is just an ordinary cat, but a big one. He has all the habits of a cat”.
However, environmental groups have raised concerns over the couple’s decision to retain the puma, citing Messi’s potential for harm as well as his right to exist in the wild.
However, the pair feels that Messi would choose to live with them rather than in the wild, and that he would not be able to survive in the wild. According to Mariya, who spoke to the Mirror,
“Of course it’s quite dangerous having such a large cat at home, but Messi is a special animal”.
So, tell us what you think of their narrative.