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The Chelyabinsk Region residents chose the mascot of the European Judo Championship during their voting on June 30, 2011. Tiger Zhorik won by a wide margin, although he had strong «rivals»: camel that is a symbol of Chelyabinsk, and a cute hedgehog.
Residents had their reasons to vote for tiger – not long ago they saved a real tiger from a certain death and named it Zhorik. Why tiger became a judo mascot? It's not just about the fighting qualities of the animal. Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, black belt judoka, took an active part in saving Zhorik.
The animal felt into the hands of famous Chelyabinsk veterinarian Karen Dallakyan from mobile zoo. The young animal was seriously injured by a chicken bone, but wound was noticed too late. The inflammatory process evolved so much that Zhorik was doomed. Doctors had to remove a part of his muzzle. They were afraid to make any predictions. But finally treatment and human care brought results – tiger started geting well.
Veterinarian didn’t want to return the animal to the terrible conditions of the mobile zoo, and offered to the residents of Chelyabinsk region buying out the crippled tiger from the former owners. South Urals residents were able to collect the necessary amount of money.
In times of economic crisis this event became a kind of litmus test for compassion and mercy. Pensioners found more than 200 rubles each; kids brought their piggy banks with coins; students gave for the salvation of Zhorik their money for lunch. Collecting donations has been declared in hospitals, factories, commercial firms, universities. The action was supported by local authorities.
Zhorik lived in a temporary enclosure of the private house yard, but then it became dangerous. Rehabilitation center for disabled animals «Utes» agreed to take Zhorik, but was situated in Khabarovsk Krai. The transporting of tiger was too expensive - 300 thousand rubles. The question was urgent. Zhorik needed to be moved before the winter because tiger had to adjust to the new climate and environment.
And here the other help came. Prime Minister and concurrently chairman of the Russian Geographical Society Vladimir Putin provided the necessary amount promptly. Amur tiger left for the rehabilitation center «Utes».
«From the wildlife protection fond «Rescue Me » and all residents of Chelyabinsk, we our sincere thanks. Thanks that you did not stay indifferent to the fate of a strong, but helpless tiger named Zhorik. Thanks to your intervention and financial support from the Russian government. Your assistance was prompt and timely. Now the residents of Chelyabinsk region can be ease in their mind about Zhorik» - wrote a doctor who saved the tiger from extinction in letter to Putin.