A Russian couple shares their tiny apartment with a large, unusual companion. And besides its large stature, the 90lb puma also has a big name. He is named Messi, one of the biggest names in soccer history. Mariya and Aleksandr Dmitriev have first seen Messi, the puma, at the Saransk Zoo in Penza. Back then, the beautiful cat was only eight-months-old.
He was one of three cubs born at the zoo. The other two, Suarez and Neymar, were also named after famous players to celebrate the Russian city hosting four matches of the World Cup. When he was just a three months old cub, Messi was sold to the Saransk Zoo. Here he struggled with health issues.
Mariya and Aleksandr have fallen in love with the puma at first sight. So they decided to appeal to the zoo in order to buy him.
According to his wife Mariya, Aleksandr, 38, had always dreamed of owning a big cat, “He always thought about having a lynx – never a puma. It’s hard to explain but we believe that having this puma is part of our destiny.”
“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,” Mariya, 28, told the Mirror. “So we went to the zoo and started negotiations to buy Messi. We were surprised ourselves when they agreed.”
Anyway, taking care of Messi was a big challenge for the Dmitriev family. Besides he’s a wild animal, the puma also needed medical attention. “He was quite weak and demanded a lot of attention,” said Mariya..
Just like any other pet, Messi needs a lot of attention. He also requires lots of exercises. For this reason, his human parents purchased a special coat and harness so they can take him on walks. “He is like a dog. We started taking him for a walk, step by step. The animal hadn’t been really active before, Aleksandr said in an interview with RT, “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.”
Finding a wild animal handler wasn’t an easy task. But in the end, the couple found a dog training school.
“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.
Messi, the puma is not a star only to his parents. He also has over 600k followers on Instagram and over 1780k subscribers on YouTube! But this is not a surprise, considering how adorable he is.
Watch him in the video below!