So far, dwellers of the only zoo in southern Russian regions managed without support of Maecenas. Though market relations more and more deeply penetrate into Russian life. The process seems to be irreversible. So, workers of Lipetsk zoo stopped hoping for budget money which is not enough for the zoo to survive and announced a competition for the best friend of animals and birds in Lipetsk. Soon, in zoo a slab of honour appeared, which should contain the names of people taking some animals under their patronage. The zoo followed the international example, which is being practiced in zoos of many countries, including big zoos of Russia. The day before May holidays, first name appeared on the slab. The pioneer of zoo-charity was a businessman from Lipetsk, manufacturing parquet, who decided to patronize a couple of white swans by transferring his first payment of 5,000 rubles (approximately $ 160.00) to the zoo’s account. It is a curious fact, that the name of the sponsor is Alexandr Lebed, which means “Swan,” Vse Novosti Chernozemya site reports. It is known that recently killed in an air crash Alexanr Lebed, Krasnoyarsk region’s governor, liked that birds very much. In general, he liked to compose new words of his name. For example, in the 1996 presidential election, where he got 15 percent of votes, he called all Russia “Lebedyan” (something like “swan country”) which many voters found beautiful. Later, while participating in political life of Russia, he also used zoological comparisons. For example he called Viktor Chernomyrdin’s resignation “swan-song.” There is one more famous phrase of Lebed: “Two birds cannot live in one den!” he said about himself being secretary of the Security Council in Yeltsin’s government and Anatoly Kulikov (Kulikov from Russian kulik which means “sandpiper”), who was at that time defence minister. Now, Lipetsk zoo’s workers hope that the example of the parquet manufacturer with such a beautiful name will become “infectious.” According to the zoo’s director Alexandr Osipov, members of Bear youth organization intend to become sponsors of their symbol. While journalists of local STV-7 television company intend to financially support the zoo’s baboon.
Irina Petrenko PRAVDA.Ru
Translated by Vera Solovieva
Read the original in Russian: http://pravda.ru/main/2002/05/13/41026.html
The choice of the city of Helsinki is not incidental as the capital of Finland had hosted US-Soviet negotiations on the limitation of nuclear stockpiles in 1969