The photos are so cute that it’s heard to bear (ha).
Russian models Maria Sidorova and Lidia Fetisova pose with a 1,400 pound bear as part of an anti-hunting awareness campaign showing that you don’t have to kill a wild animal to pose in a photo with one.
The love-fest photos were shot by photographer Olga Barantseva in a forest outside of Moscow. “We wanted to show the natural harmony between humans and bears,” said Barantseva. “We all need to live side by side in harmony and not hunt our fellow citizens who live in the forest – not hunt them.”
Sidorova, one of the models, said the bear was surprisingly friendly. “I could hug a real bear, speak to him and hide under his giant paw,” she said. “In the beginning I was frightened, but as soon as I hugged him I felt his warmth and how soft his fur was.”
The bear is 18 years old and is named Stephen. According to the DailyMail, Stephen was rescued by his owner Yuriy Panteleenko, who found him barely alive in the hands of hunters.
He negotiated the three-month-old bear’s release, but soon discovered his mother had either abandoned him or been slaughtered and he was too weak.
Instead Mr Panteleenko took him in and hand-raised him like a parent. But after being hand reared, Stephen was unable to reintegrate back into the wild.
The professional circus trainer eventually trained Stephan to become a movie star – and the animal has since appeared in a host of Russian blockbusters including, Tsar.
Watch a video of the photoshoot below: