He's helped tranquilize tigers and has taken skin samples from whales. On Wednesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin took off on his latest project in species protection, teaching endangered Siberian cranes how to migrate.
Putin piloted an ultralight aircraft over the Arctic Yamal Peninsula, trying to train the cranes to follow the ultralight from the Kushevat ornithological station and sanctuary where they have been raised to a wintering ground set up for them in southern Uzbekistan, more than 2,000 miles away, RIA-Novosti reported.
The ultralight guidance is necessary because no cranes have made the trip before, so they can't lead the way.
The new wintering ground was set up because a trip to the birds' traditional wintering grounds in India has become hazardous because of poaching in Afghanistan and Pakistan, the Kremlin said in a statement, according to the Moscow Times.
Putin made three flights Wednesday, the first to familiarize himself with the ultralight and the second and third with the birds. One bird followed Putin in the first test, and five followed in the second, according to RIA-Novosti. But only two of the five were able to keep up with Putin during the 15-minute flight.
After the test, the Russian leader gushed about the cranes under his tutelage.
‚ÄúI feel great relief because everything has come off so well,‚ÄĚ RIA Novosti quoted him as saying. ‚ÄúThe birdies did a great job.‚ÄĚ
The birds also will have a lot of work to do. They need to complete about 750 miles worth of training with the ultralight before attempting the 2,000-mile trip to Uzbekistan, RIA Novosti reported.
Putin has some flight training ahead, too. He has 17 hours experience as a pilot and needs eight more to become a certified pilot, senior pilot Igor Nikitin told RIA-Novosti.
Video of Putin's flight was posted on YouTube.
Of course, if the flamboyant Putin has any ideas of making a feature-length film of his adventures, it's been done.
The 1996 film "Fly Away Home," starring Jeff Daniels, told the story of William Lishman, who taught Canadian geese to follow him around his home and then later guided them from Ontario to Virginia.
Lishman's work has resulted in Operation Migration, an organization that uses the tactic to establish crane migration routes in North America.
While Putin might not have a feature film in his future, he's got a few fans of his swashbuckling in international diplomatic circles.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton asked the Sultan of Brunei on Thursday if he'd been keeping up with Putin.
"Did you see the story today about President Putin dressing up like a bird? In a hang glider," Clinton asked the sultan at a dinner during her visit to Brunei.
"Really?" the sultan replies.
"He was pretending to be a mother red crane leading the cranes," Clinton says.
"He is quite a character," the sultan says.
To which Clinton replies, "He is, he is indeed."