Okay, I swore I would never do another “Timur the Goat” story. But this just proves that everybody lies. Even me.
So, gear yourself up, please. I saw this story in several places, but picked the Komsomolskaya Pravda one, because it had the most details and visuals. The lede is that Timur the Goat, just released from medical rehab, was given a celebrity tour of Moscow, visited all the usual tourist sites, was treated like a rock star, and capped the experience by pressing his cloven hoof onto a Star on the Walk of Fame. (Just like the Hollywood Walk of Fame stars, except this is the Russian version, in Moscow.)
Everybody knows the back story, but a quick recap can’t hurt:
At the Primorie Zoopark out on the farthest fringes of the Russian Siberian Far East, a young goat named Timur was purchased from a local farmer and brought into the habitat of a ferocious Siberian tiger named Amur. Zoo handlers kept Amur in shape by forcing him (mostly) to hunt his own food instead of just been handed on a silver platter. Timur was expected to put up a token resistance and then end up in Amur’s belly as fresh-killed meat. What saved Timur’s life was his complete lack of fear. Like a goaty version of the German dragon-slaying hero Siegfried, Timur marched brazenly into the tiger’s den, reared up when confronted by the feline predator, showed no sign of fear, and was not eaten. The two animals supposedly became “friends” after that first encounter. Or at least companions for a couple of hours out of each day.
The zoo management went crazy with this new opportunity. The animals became national, and even international celebrities. There was talk of a book deal, a movie deal, an animated serial. Russian children fell in love with the pair, who were held up to them as an example of tolerance: How people (or animals) from very different backgrounds can learn to get along. Timur the Goat was milked (pun intended) for all the publicity he could bring. Whatever pittance the zookeepers had spent on purchasing him as a walking lunchbox, they got back manifold in the amount of publicity and increased flock of visitors to the park.
Webcams were set up: Day after day the odd couple were photographed lounging together and taking strolls in Amur’s enclosure. There are naysayers who dispute the whole “animal friendship story” and claim the whole thing was a staged hoax. For example, a woman named Evgenia Patanovskaya, a disgruntled ex-employee of the zoo (she was the Press Secretary, so she might actually know something) claims that the zoo management kept Amur sated with food at all times, prior to introducing Timur into his lair. Everybody knows that big cats only attack prey when hungry. And this is probably all true, yet the earlier photos don’t lie. Amur the Tiger does look like a typical pussycat in some of these pictures, Like the one above, where he is rolling around on his back looking like a cat who is glad for some company. Never underestimate the power of loneliness.
It all ended badly
of course, with Amur biting Timur and giving him a good thrashing. The writers of the KP piece quite blatantly blame the victim for his own predicament when they write that: “Timur went too far and attacked the tiger. The predator would not put up with such brazen behavior and tossed him back. And also bit him on the back (of the neck).”
Once again, here is the video, and for animal lovers this is hard to watch. The video, like KP, pretty much takes the pro-Amur side of things, pointing out that this is the way that cats behave when they discipline their own young kittens. No doubt Amur did not know his own strength, or realize that a goat is physically much weaker than even a baby tiger:
As a result of this violent incident, the animals were separated, mainly for Timur’s own protection. But this is where we pick up with the continuation of this saga, namely Timur’s trip to the Russian capital.
After the bad thing which happened last winter, when Amur bit Timur on the back of his neck, Timur’s injury was more serious than people realized at first. Apparently Amur did not practice good dental hygiene, because Timur got a fungal infection at the site of the wound. Also, apparently, for whatever reason, neither Primorie, neither the Safari zoo nor anywhere else in the region, does not have enough skilled veterinarians to heal an injured animal. Therefore there was no other choice except to bring this goat to Moscow for top-notch medical treatment.
Timur Tours Moscow
And that’s where Timur has been all these months. Living on a farm near Moscow and receiving high-end concierge medical services. But now that he is all better, his boss, Dmitry Mezentsev (Director of the Safari Park) decided
to milk Timur for some more publicity that Timur needed more Rehab. In order to lift him from his depression and enhance his “positive emotions”. Hence, the highly-publicized tour of the capital city. Timur was shown all the main sights, including Red Square and Lenin’s Mausoleum. Timur took a selfie of himself on Red Square, and then was taken to see the Bolshoi Theater, the Parliament (Duma), the skyscrapers of “Moscow-City” and the Sparrow Hills. Timur further distinguished himself at a farmer’s market when he leaped over a fence and gobbled some berries.
The following day, July 2, Timur was taken to the permanent exhibition (ВДНХ), more specifically the agricultural fair, where he was inducted into the Hall of Fame and got his own star, while munching on a bucket of carrots.
Timur Will Pick a Bride?
The one thing which Timur lacks in his otherwise full life, is a wife. His handlers attempted to remedy that when they introduced him to a lady goat named Merkel. Timur didn’t like her. A couple of days from now (6 July), another attempt will be made: on live TV Timur will be presented with five lady goats. Whichever one he picks, the handlers will immediately stage a wedding on TV. They hope to accomplish this by 8 July, which will be Timur’s birthday. (He turns two years old, which is actually 40, in Astakhov years.)
Not to be outdone, KP reporters point out that Amur the Tiger did not waste any time mourning the loss of his former pal: Amur himself has found true happiness in his personal life. He has a lady-tiger mate now. But they don’t say what her name is, and it is outrageous that they did not stage this tiger “wedding” and “honeymoon night” as a reality show on Russian TV.