Children in the Rostov region found the 5-month old cub on the steppe Wednesday and brought it to their teacher, who kept it in the school gym, police said Thursday.
While waiting for police, children petted and played with the cub, named Barsik. One boy even tried to ride it like a horse while it mewled and swiped at the air.
The cub had escaped from a car on the way to a zoo in Dagestan in the North Caucasus. It has now been removed from the school and placed in a local zoo.