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Russian Celebrity Cat Trainer Opens Cat Theatre

posted 13 Apr 2013, 09:23 by Mpelembe   [ updated 13 Apr 2013, 09:24 ]

Moscow reopens the Cat Theatre, delighting crowds with felines performing ferocious stunts.

MOSCOWRUSSIA (APRIL 12, 2013) (REUTERS) -  Yuri Kuklachev's Moscow Cat Theatre reopened on Friday (April 12) to the delight of hundreds of Muscovites who came to see the feline and human performers.

The studio, run by Kuklachev, a legendary animal trainer, clown and Soviet-era child star, had been under renovation more than a year.

Excitement was in the air for Kuklachev's son and theatre artistic director Dmitry, as he posed for photographs and talked to journalists.

"Today is the first day we've come here. Animals feel good and each of them has found its place. That's great because it shows that the atmosphere here is favourable for them," Dmitry Kuklachev said.

In addition to the cats' performances on stage, the theatre that bills itself as the only cat theatre in the world is also putting cats on display to the audiences before and after shows in the theatre's all glass "Cat Temple".

The Kuklachevs plan on closely replicating the cats' "natural" habitats according to breed, Dmitry Kuklachev said.

"We have more than 120 cats in total. We haven't brought all of them here, only part of them. Step by step we will be bringing them in. Soon we'll have a whole cats' world here," with the temple outfitted with decorations appropriate to a cat's origins, Dmitry Kuklachev said.

Dmitry Kuklachev also told Reuters the temple would offer animal training courses and pet therapy sessions.

On stage, the elder Kuklachev danced with the cats and guided them through stunts choreographed to booming music, sometimes calling on audience members to assist in the tricks. Following his performance, Kuklachev gushed about the offerings of the newly-renovated theatre.

"Can you see what a theatre we have built? That was my dream that it wasn't just a theatre where they stage plays. But for it to become a cultural centre where people can come to and visit cats," said Yuri Kuklachev.

Audience members seemed equally enthusiastic about the theatre.

"It's the only cat theatre in the world. I came here to see kindness, happy faces and to enjoy it with everyone else. As well as to say happy birthday to Yuri Kuklachev," said visitor Nina who attended the reopening ceremony.

"Yes, I liked one pretty cat, fluffy. It was a very beautiful cat," said visitor Vika.

Not everyone is a fan of the Moscow Cat Theatre, however. Yuri Kuklachev has drawn criticism from animal welfare advocates, including People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.