It's not just Russian names. Many Slavic names mean something, and not just animals. I remember a number of years ago reading a book by a Czech author, and cracking up at the names, which included a Mr. Krocan (turkey) a young man with the last name Skocdopole (jump into a field) and the unlikely duo of Reverend Houba (mushroom) and Mr Rebarbora (Rhubarb)". I had a conversation with my mom about odd Czech names, and she didn't find them odd. She went to school with a guy whose last name was Mrkvicka (little carrot)I particularly found interesting the second paragraph. I hadn't realised that a lot of Russian names actually meant something. Well, I suppose it's like English family names that are derived from a distant ancestor's job, for example Cooper (barrel maker); Fletcher (arrow maker); Baker (bread maker).
But, I am now really intrigued as to why some people's ancestors got named after animals!
And no, we're not all named after food or animals. When I was a kid, we used to go apple picking in the orchard of Mr. Nesvadba (no wedding), and there are noble Czech names like Svoboda (freedom).
One of my favorites is the name Škoda. You know, like the cars. That company is named after its founder (kind of like Ford), except with a more amusing meaning. The word 'škoda' cannnot be perfectly translated into English, but the French word "dommage" is a good equivalent. It has both the meaning of pity as in the phrase, 'It's a pity' as well as damage. Can you imagine going through life with that as your last name?