Vladimir Putin leads cranes in flight

September 6, 2012

Vladimir Putin — the tiger sedater, the skin-diving archeologist, the motorcycle rider, the bare-chested horseman — has tried on another role: mother hen.

Russia’s president, perpetually on the lookout for the photogenic natural adventure, stopped at an Arctic peninsula on his way to a summit in Vladivostok and used a motorized hang glider to lead a flock of captive-raised red cranes, the Interfax news agency reported early Thursday.

The idea was to start the birds on their winter migration — an undertaking that required Russia’s strongman to don white coveralls and wear a glove that looks like a beak.

That way, the young cranes would think he’s their mother.

The president has been learning to fly a glider for the past several months, according to Vedomosti, which broke the story. He made three flights Wednesday on Siberia’s Yamal peninsula: one for practice, one that attracted just a single chick, and — finally — one that got five young birds in motion.

Putin stopped on the peninsula en route to the APEC conference, which U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton will also attend.

The cranes, an endangered species, have been raised by the Russian World Wildlife Fund.

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