Russia giving Korea three rare Siberian tigers

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Russia giving Korea three rare Siberian tigers

It’s a tiger of a deal. Russia plans to give three Siberian tigers to Korea to reaffirm amicable bilateral ties between Korea and Russia.

“The Korean and Russian governments have recently decided to bring in tigers to Korea within the first half of the year,” said a Korean diplomatic source. “This is meaningful as it symbolizes the friendly relations between the two countries.”

The three Siberian tigers, otherwise known as Amur tigers, were each said to be a little over a year old.

Zoologists have said that Siberian tigers have not been found in Korea since 1922 when the last Siberian tiger was killed in North Gyeongsang. The tigers, which are an endangered species under protection in the eastern region of Siberia, are considered mystical creatures in Korean culture.

The source said that diplomatic officials hatched a plan to have the tigers accompany Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin on a visit to Korea, but was scrapped because Putin does not have plans to visit Korea anytime soon.

Korea’s Ministry of Environment is in negotiations on the transport plans for the tigers, and a group from the Korean government visited Russia last December, said the source.

Relations between South Korea and Russia soured last year when Russia did not take a more active role in blaming North Korea for the sinking of the Cheonan in March.

However, Seoul is now extending efforts to have warmer ties with Russia as North Korea has sided with China since inter-Korean relations turned cold.

According to government sources, the Russian government also hopes to have better ties with South Korea as its influence over the Korean Peninsula has weakened.


By Christine Kim [christine.kim@joongang.co.kr]

한글 관련기사[중앙일보]

“시베리아 호랑이 올 상반기안에 들어온다”

1살 약간 넘겨..한ㆍ러 이송방법 협의중

‘백두산 호랑이’ 또는 ‘아무르 호랑이’로 불리는 시베리아 호랑이 세마리가 올 상반기 안에 국내에 들어올 것으로 알려졌다.

외교소식통은 21일 "한국과 러시아 정부가 최근 외교채널을 통해 상반기 안으로 호랑이 한국 이송을 추진하기로 했다"면서 "이는 양국 우호관계를 상징하는 것으로 의미가 크다"고 말했다.

한국에 들어올 호랑이들은 1살을 약간 넘긴 것으로 알려졌다.

양국 정부는 날씨가 추운 겨울철에 호랑이을 이송하는 방안을 검토했으나 시기가 너무 늦어질 것을 우려해 조기 이송에 합의한 것으로 전해졌다.

환경부와 관련 동물원측은 현재 구체적인 운송방법 등을 놓고 물밑 협의를 진행중인 것으로 알려졌다. 정부 실무팀은 지난해 12월 러시아에 다녀왔다.

외교가에서는 한때 방한 초청이 돼 있는 블라디미르 푸틴 총리가 이들 호랑이를 데리고 한국을 방문하는 시나리오도 거론됐으나 현재로서는 푸틴 총리의 연내 방한이 불투명한 것으로 알려졌다.

시베리아 호랑이는 1900년 무렵까지 한반도를 비롯해 만주와 몽골 북부, 러시아 극동지방에 걸쳐 분포했던 것으로 알려졌으나 지금은 러시아 극동 남부에만 서식하는 것으로 알려졌다.

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