A local zoo in Penza, Russia recently celebrated the birth of three adorable puma cubs. Suarez, Neymar, and Messi were brought into the world – all of them were named after famous soccer stars.
The zoo staff thought that the names were fitting, considering Russia was hosting the World Cup, and Penza even hosted four of the matches.
The three young pumas were definitely an attraction in the zoo, but unfortunately, Messi started suffering from health problems at the age of just three months old.
A couple fell so in love with poor Messi, and they started investigating whether they could purchase him and take care of him.
The two visitors, Mariya, and Aleksandr Dmitriev, first laid eyes on the animal when he was just eight months old and rather limited in size.
After getting to know him better, this couple knew that the zoo wasn’t the best place for him to live.
Even though it was quite unusual and the two live in a small one-bedroom apartment, they felt like they needed to rescue him.
“When Messi was three months old he was sold to the zoo in our city Penza. That’s where we saw him for the first time and it was love at first sight.”
“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 told The Mirror.
They weren’t really expecting a positive response, but the zoo management surprisingly agreed. Mariya and Aleksandr promised to nurse the cub back to health and give him all the attention he deserved, and that’s exactly what they did.
Messi will soon celebrate his third birthday and he’s never been better. You could also definitely say that he’s grown quite a bit, but according to his owners, it’s just a big cat with all of the habits of a normal feline.
Taking him in and caring for him as a pet wasn’t an easy task, but the couple never regretted their decision.
In fact, they’ve always wanted to have a large cat as a pet, so Messi the puma was absolutely perfect.
“It’s hard to explain but we believe that having this puma is part of our destiny.”
Because of his sheer size, they invested in a sort of special outside coat and harness to make going on walks easier and safer.
They’ve also redesigned and repurposed their hallway as a playground den for Messi, which he truly never gets bored of.
Even though Messi is definitely larger than your average cat, the average puma is even bigger. Messi’s growth was impacted by his health issues at the zoo.
“Of course it’s quite dangerous having such a large cat at home, but Messi is a special animal.
As for his personality, the couple would simply describe it as incredible.
The large animal, which registers about 90 pounds on a scale and is about a dozen times heavier than a cat, is very ‘talkative’ and definitely gets along with other humans. Mariya said that he’s an incredible pet and she and her spouse feel so lucky that he is who he is.
Unfortunately, the couple’s other pet, a cat named Kira, wasn’t too fond of having Messi in the house. She apparently didn’t like the idea of having another, larger animal around and refuses to be friends with him. Nonetheless, the two often do their separate things and aren’t too hostile against one another.
Messi also certainly lives up to his name, he even has his own miniature soccer ball!
The ball was actually gifted to him by a Brazilian journalist and Messi has been given plenty of other soft toys to play around with as well.
Messi has definitely gotten plenty of attention ever since Mariya and Aleksandr have started posting pictures and videos of him online. The puma even has his own Instagram-account with hundreds of thousands of followers.
After a couple of weeks of moving in, Messi started going to a dog training school in order to learn some basic commands. The couple faces quite a bit of criticism from people who like to see Messi return to a sanctuary or a reserve, but Mariya and Aleksandr are convinced that the safest place for him to be in, is with them.
The couple is now trying to find a larger home to live in so that Messi would have more room and perhaps a garden to spend some time in.
What a cool and unique pet!
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