Messi is a puma. Kind Russian couple Mariya and Aleksandr Dmitriev first met him at the Saransk Zoo in Penza. Then Messi was 8 months old. Somehow this couple decided to adopt Messi.
Two other cubs, named Suarez and Neymar, were born with Messi. Messi was sold to the zoo in about 3 months. There were several health issues had with him when he was sold. Somehow the Russian couple saw Messi and asked the zoo if they could buy him.
Mariya always thought of adopting a big cat like a Lynx. “He always thought about having a lynx and never a puma,” she said. It’s hard to explain but we believe that having this puma is part of our destiny ”. She said about it.
Mariya, 28 years old, told the Mirror.“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,” and also said “So we went to the zoo and started negotiations to buy Messi. We were surprised ourselves when they agreed.”
“He was quite weak and demanded a lot of attention,” she added, adding that taking care of Messi was a big challenge. The couple fed the cub and returns to normal, but he has grown to about two-thirds the size of an average puma.
“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. ” Aleksandr said in an interview with RT.
Training Messi is not the same as training a dog and it is not as easy as you think. So the couple looked for a wildlife handler but it failed.
Eventually, they found a school that trained dogs. Messi had the opportunity to attend the school, where he learned to respond to various commands.
“He convinced us with his behavior that he’s a full member of our family and that he wouldn’t be doing anything bad apart from some small naughty things. He’s very kind and likes contact. He gets on very well with people,” says Aleksandr.
The apartment where the couple lives have only one bedroom. But Messi has also been accommodated as a member of their giant family.
“He is just an ordinary cat, but a big one. He has all the habits of a cat,” says Aleksandr.
According to environmental rights, wildlife must live in a forest reserve or sanctuary. So some activists have objected with Dmitriev to keeping a wildlife animal at home. They think that keeping wildlife with them is a risk to their lives as well.
“Of course, it’s quite dangerous having such a large cat at home, but Messi is a special animal,” Mariya told the Mirror.