An abandoned bear has become a famous model after getting rescued by humans as a cub.
Stepan is a 28-year-old brown bear that was saved and adopted by humans after it was found abandoned with no chances to survive on its own.
As a cub, Stepan reportedly became very attached to his Russian rescuers who raised him and provided him with a home.
Eventually, the bear also met 40-year-old photographer Mila Zhdanova who befriended its owners, Svetlana and Yuri Pantileenko.
After seeing how friendly the bear is with people, Zhdanova decided to capture the magnificent animal on camera alongside human models dressed in traditional Russian outfits.
“People have some stereotyped ideas about Russia. They think we never smile and have bears walking the street,” the photographer said.
“We do have bears but I want to show in my pictures that we do smile. Shooting with Stepan is such a treat and I have to restrain my emotions.”
As Zhdanova explained, the photoshoot spanned over several months because the bear only works for thirty minutes at a time.
“Stepan is so friendly thanks to his trainers’ care and love. I’ve worked with models from Thailand, Australia, Germany, Britain, and Israel who have all flown to work with him,” the 40-year-old added.
“Some had heard of the modeling bear and had been dreaming of this for five years.”
According to the proud photographer, there were never any issues with photographing the bear whereas “the shoots are pure delight.”
“There’s never any issues. I’ve had more problems photographing kittens,” Zhdanova said. “I hope people see the beauty and strength in animals and nature through my photos.”
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