January 28, 2020

Meet Russia's favorite sable


Meet Russia's favorite sable
Yevgenia, and her master, Uma the Sable Courtesy Yevgenia Fedorchenko

Russian sable was once what Russian oil is today. Historians estimate that in the sixteenth century the fur trade comprised some 25 percent of the economy of Muscovy. Sable decorates  Monomakh's Cap, the symbol of Russian autocracy. Yet demand for the fur of this Siberian animal practically obliterated the species in the wild, until the Soviet era, when most sable was farm-raised.

Today, many fur farms are struggling. Warming winters, and a decline in personal incomes over the past six years are two contributing factors to why Russian women don't buy as many fur coats. But another is that Russia is (perhaps reluctantly) following Western trends: fur is becoming unpopular for ethical reasons. Some Russian brands are following European fashion houses and no longer make coats out of fur animals (that is, species like mink and sable, which are bred specifically for their fur).

Some Russians have even started to buy sables and foxes (See Russian Life March/April 2019) from fur farms so that they can have an exotic pet or so that they can rescue them from becoming a coat. We spoke with Yevgenia Fedorchenko, a psychology student in Moscow, who runs one of Russia's more popular Instagram accounts, about her pet sable Umora (Uma for short). Yevgenia chronicles Uma's life in her apartment, from her passion for hiding things (especially socks!), to her gravity-defying leaps, to climbing seemingly impossible obstacles.

Uma the Sable

instagram.com/russian_sable

What is the story of Uma, how and where did you purchase her?

I found out by accident that one can buy a sable for a pet when I saw an ad. I fell in love with their cute little faces and thought that maybe someday I would get one, after I read a few articles about sable care (many contained information I later learned was not true). 

Click to read about how Uma was purchased from a fur farm.
 

Years later, I found out that you can also buy a sable from a fur farm. Even though they are not tame there, I decided I must rescue one. Uma is almost two years old, but her age is not entirely clear. I came to the farm to get a month-old cub, but there was a mixup and they sold me an older animal. This became evident when I compared Uma with photos of other sable cubs that were bought from farms. Such purchases tend to be rare, because sable is the most expensive fur (cubs cost around R15,000, or $240) and the animals are difficult to train, but breeding farms don't care whether they sell their product in the form of pelts or live animals.

"I am a personality, not a fur coat!"
 

Why did you launch your Instagram, do you hope to discourage people from buying fur?

With my Instagram, I have the goal of promoting the ethical treatment of animals, not just fur animals. But of course, the main idea is the total pointlessness of the fur industry. I'd like people to see not just desirable, expensive fur, but a unique species with its own quirks and personality traits.

Is there a large community of sable owners? Would you recommend buying a sable as a pet?

Now there are other sable pets on Instagram, but when I got Uma there were no other accounts. I don't encourage other people to buy sables from farms. It's a species that will consume a huge amount of their owner's time and energy. 

 

Uma flying
 

The most important thing is for accounts like mine with such pets to honestly show the reality of owning an animal like this, not just the more glamorous side of it.

The less cuddly side of Uma

 

Of course, it's wonderful if somebody else wants to rescue a sable cub, but it's a huge responsibility, and I am always completely honest. Many of my subscribers would probably describe Uma as evil incarnate rather than a cute cuddly companion. Only her face is cute.

Umora in a pile of flowers

 

Do you think fur is on its way out in Russia? What do you wear during winter?

World brands are already dictating cruelty-free fashions. The Pushkino Fur Farm (outside Moscow) has gone bankrupt, celebrities talk about not wearing fur anymore, and that makes me happy. I have an ecofur coat [In Russian, ecofur refers to both artificial fur and fabric made of lambswool woven onto a fabric base.] and a down parka with no down. I don't wear any animal products and survive the winter comfortably.

 

How has Umora changed your habits and views?

Umora has helped me make a change I had been long thinking about. I switched to ethical beauty products, stopped eating meat, started recycling and trying to lead an environmentally-friendly lifestyle. Although it sounds counterintuitive, living with a hyperactive pet made me calmer, I don't get irritated as much. Otherwise, it would be impossible to survive with her. 

"Good sable!"
Uma following commands
Never give up!
Uma climbing a wardrobe.

 

Can you describe Umora? What were you most surprised by in her behavior?

Umora is vindictive, stubborn and extremely confident. She considers herself to be the center of the universe. She's a very intelligent animal. I didn't expect her to be able to respond to commands like a dog. She already knows six. Umora knows all of her hiding spots and constantly steals things, especially socks. I didn't expect that sables are not only protective of their territory from strangers, but also of their hiding places from their owners.

Uma and a Christmas present
Like this post? Get a weekly email digest + member-only deals

Some of Our Books

Woe From Wit (bilingual)

Woe From Wit (bilingual)

One of the most famous works of Russian literature, the four-act comedy in verse Woe from Wit skewers staid, nineteenth century Russian society, and it positively teems with “winged phrases” that are essential colloquialisms for students of Russian and Russian culture.
Life Stories: Original Fiction By Russian Authors

Life Stories: Original Fiction By Russian Authors

The Life Stories collection is a nice introduction to contemporary Russian fiction: many of the 19 authors featured here have won major Russian literary prizes and/or become bestsellers. These are life-affirming stories of love, family, hope, rebirth, mystery and imagination, masterfully translated by some of the best Russian-English translators working today. The selections reassert the power of Russian literature to affect readers of all cultures in profound and lasting ways. Best of all, 100% of the profits from the sale of this book are going to benefit Russian hospice—not-for-profit care for fellow human beings who are nearing the end of their own life stories.
The Pet Hawk of the House of Abbas

The Pet Hawk of the House of Abbas

This exciting new trilogy by a Russian author – who has been compared to Orhan Pamuk and Umberto Eco – vividly recreates a lost world, yet its passions and characters are entirely relevant to the present day. Full of mystery, memorable characters, and non-stop adventure, The Pet Hawk of the House of Abbas is a must read for lovers of historical fiction and international thrillers.  
White Magic

White Magic

The thirteen tales in this volume – all written by Russian émigrés, writers who fled their native country in the early twentieth century – contain a fair dose of magic and mysticism, of terror and the supernatural. There are Petersburg revenants, grief-stricken avengers, Lithuanian vampires, flying skeletons, murders and duels, and even a ghostly Edgar Allen Poe.
Marooned in Moscow

Marooned in Moscow

This gripping autobiography plays out against the backdrop of Russia's bloody Civil War, and was one of the first Western eyewitness accounts of life in post-revolutionary Russia. Marooned in Moscow provides a fascinating account of one woman's entry into war-torn Russia in early 1920, first-person impressions of many in the top Soviet leadership, and accounts of the author's increasingly dangerous work as a journalist and spy, to say nothing of her work on behalf of prisoners, her two arrests, and her eventual ten-month-long imprisonment, including in the infamous Lubyanka prison. It is a veritable encyclopedia of life in Russia in the early 1920s.
Moscow and Muscovites

Moscow and Muscovites

Vladimir Gilyarovsky's classic portrait of the Russian capital is one of Russians’ most beloved books. Yet it has never before been translated into English. Until now! It is a spectactular verbal pastiche: conversation, from gutter gibberish to the drawing room; oratory, from illiterates to aristocrats; prose, from boilerplate to Tolstoy; poetry, from earthy humor to Pushkin. 
The Frogs Who Begged for a Tsar

The Frogs Who Begged for a Tsar

The fables of Ivan Krylov are rich fonts of Russian cultural wisdom and experience – reading and understanding them is vital to grasping the Russian worldview. This new edition of 62 of Krylov’s tales presents them side-by-side in English and Russian. The wonderfully lyrical translations by Lydia Razran Stone are accompanied by original, whimsical color illustrations by Katya Korobkina.
The Moscow Eccentric

The Moscow Eccentric

Advance reviewers are calling this new translation "a coup" and "a remarkable achievement." This rediscovered gem of a novel by one of Russia's finest writers explores some of the thorniest issues of the early twentieth century.
22 Russian Crosswords

22 Russian Crosswords

Test your knowledge of the Russian language, Russian history and society with these 22 challenging puzzles taken from the pages of Russian Life magazine. Most all the clues are in English, but you must fill in the answers in Russian. If you get stumped, of course all the puzzles have answers printed at the back of the book.
Fearful Majesty

Fearful Majesty

This acclaimed biography of one of Russia’s most important and tyrannical rulers is not only a rich, readable biography, it is also surprisingly timely, revealing how many of the issues Russia faces today have their roots in Ivan’s reign.
Maria's War: A Soldier's Autobiography

Maria's War: A Soldier's Autobiography

This astonishingly gripping autobiography by the founder of the Russian Women’s Death Battallion in World War I is an eye-opening documentary of life before, during and after the Bolshevik Revolution.

About Us

Russian Life is a publication of a 30-year-young, award-winning publishing house that creates a bimonthly magazine, books, maps, and other products for Russophiles the world over.

Latest Posts

Our Contacts

Russian Life
PO Box 567
Montpelier VT 05601-0567

802-223-4955