Russian president Vladimir Putin has admitted that some of his most famous media adventures with wildlife, including one in which he "shoots" a tiger, were carefully staged for the cameras.
Videos of Putin on dangerous macho-style missions, including "saving" someone from a tiger, tagging a whale and frolicking with a wild snow leopard, have been shown on Russian TV for a number of years, and reported by the media worldwide.
The president has now admitted that many of these encounters were faked, but claims that he did this to highlight the plight of animals under threat.
His revelations were made in an interview published in Russia's Bolshoi Gorod magazine, with Putin critic and journalist Masha Gessen
Referring to an incident four years ago, in which he was shown shooting a tiger with a tranquilliser gun when it looked like it was about to attack someone, Putin defended his actions. He said: "But I thought up these tigers myself. Twenty other countries where tigers live also started taking care of them," reports the Calgary Herald.
After the footage was shown on Russian TV, environmentalists claimed that the tiger had in fact been driven in from a zoo for Putin to "shoot" in front of the cameras.
In another incident, in which Putin is shown tagging and releasing a rare and injured snow leopard, he said: "Of course it was a set up."
Environmentalists had again claimed that the animal had been brought in specially.
Putin's most recent stunt involved flying in a motorised plane with endangered Siberian cranes (below).