The Pope becomes a Leopard Keeper

The Pope becomes a Leopard Keeper

16 February 2023

Pope Francis has become an honorary Leopard Keeper and gave a unique name to a Far Eastern leopard that lives in Land of the Leopard National Park in the Primorye Territory.


“I saw the leopard in the photo, it is very beautiful. Congratulations on your successful work. Please say hello to my friend, Leo 252M. I suggest naming him Martin Fierro after the character from our great epic poem by the Argentine writer José Hernández,” the Pope wrote in his message to the national park.


Pope Francis is the Keeper of the Far Eastern leopard Leo 252M. The leopard was first spotted near the Gamov Peninsula, where leopards have not been seen for a long time.


“The Pope’s participation in our project is a great honour. This international-level event is a new acknowledgment of our environmental protection efforts,” said Yelena Gangalo, general director of the Far Eastern Leopards autonomous non-profit organisation. “Leo 252M is a symbol of restoring the leopard population, which at the beginning of the century was on the brink of extinction: there were only 35 leopards. Leopards appearing in places where they had been hunted to extinction is one of the best signs of our success.”


The leopard was named after the main character of an Argentine poem of the same name. One of his most popular quotes is: “For me the whole great world is small.” The national park workers believe that this saying can also symbolise the expansion of the habitat of the rare Far Eastern leopards.