Animal Lover Vladimir Putin Teaches Flock Of Cranes How To Fly South For The Winter

Most larger-than-life leaders need to invent stories about their larger-than-life accomplishments. Not Vladimir Putin: When he says he taught birds how to fly south for the winter, believe it.

Taking a break from fighting bears and flying jets, the Russian president participated in a project aimed at guiding endangered cranes born in captivity along their migratory route to Central Asia.

Inspired by the 1996 film Fly Away Home, the Kushavet ornithological research station in Siberia sent Putin soaring in a motorized hang glider while wearing clothes meant to resemble an adult crane.

It took him three tries, but he finally got enough cranes to follow him.

"They are overtaking, approaching the wing from the left, from the right, from above," Putin told Rossiya 24 after the final flight. "Well done. Beautiful guys. Cute."

[photo via AP]