Russia to donate three rare Siberian tigers to South Korea

Fri Apr 22, 2011 4:23am EDT
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SEOUL (Reuters Life!) - Russia is to give three rare one-year-old Siberian tigers, two males and one female, to South Korea to boost ties between the two countries, South Korean newspapers reported on Friday.

The proposal to give the tigers arose from a translation error during a 2009 visit by a Russian official, Russian news agency Itar Tass said at the time. The official was said to have passed a stuffed tiger and commented how nice it was -- a remark mistranslated as pledging the tigers.

"The two governments, through diplomatic channels, have recently decided to forge ahead with the transfer of the tigers to Korea within the first half of the year," a Korean diplomatic source was quoted as saying.

Siberian tigers are regarded as sacred animals in Korea, although the last one was shot dead in 1922. The animal served as the mascot for the 1988 Olympic games in South Korea and as the badge for the national soccer team in the 2002 World Cup.

(Writing by Seongbin Kang; Editing by David Chance and Elaine Lies)