Published: September 06. 2012 4:00AM PST
Russian President Vladimir Putin flies in a motorized hang glider alongside two Siberian white cranes Wednesday on the Yamal Peninsula in Russia.
Putin, also pictured at right, piloted a motorized hang glider over an Arctic wilderness while leading six of the endangered cranes toward their winter habitat, as part of an operation called “The Flight of Hope," his press office confirmed Wednesday.
While Putin recently has found some resistance to his stewardship at home, he found a more receptive crowd among his feathered followers. Experts say that when raised in captivity, these cranes quickly form bonds with figures they perceive as parents. That is a role, apparently, that Putin has been training for.
“For cranes, the parent is a man in a white robe," Yuri Markin, the director of the game preserve that reared the chicks, told Russian News Service, a radio network. “They don’t remember a particular person. They remember the white robe and hood, or on the ultralight, a white helmet — and a special beak that is worn on the head."
— New York Times News Service
RIA-Novosti via The Associated Press