Russian models Maria Sidorova and Lidia Fetisova posed with a living, breathing, huge grizzly bear as part of an anti-hunting campaign.
The photoshoot, conducted by photographer Olga Barantseva, are intended to depict the “natural harmony between humans and bear.” While I am firmly against hunting for sport, it is unquestionable that if the models were paired with any bear other than this one, they would’ve been torn apart rather swiftly. The reason why this bear, named Stephen (which is the absolute worst name for a bear, by the way) appears so placid is because he’s reasonably domesticated – for a 1,433-pound grizzly bear, at least.
Stephen was found in the possession of a group of hunters by his “owner” (and that term should probably be used incredibly lightly) Yuriy Panteleenko. Panteleenko raised Stephen until eventually leaving him in the care of a circus trainer, with the animal now starring in many major Russian films.
Speaking of working with Stephen, Mario Sidorova said: “In the beginning I was frightened, but as soon as I hugged him I felt his warmth and how soft his fur was.” He does look soft, I’ll give him that. Still, regardless of how many movies he’s appeared in, I’d probably stay a reasonable distance away from him and not don a leotard and prance around with him in the snow. That’s just me, though.
Check out the bear and the two models (that would be the weirdest name for a children’s book) playing around in the gallery below:
And here’s a video showing how Barantseva managed to get the models and bear to work with one another: