Joan Larsen Presents: To Melt the Heart – First Photos of the Most Loveable Brown Bears Ever Filmed

Posted on July 22, 2015

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By Joan Larsen

Dedicated to my long-time friends and fellow explorers, Arthur and Mary Clark.  Arthur is a retired Air Force general, an aviator, and a veteran of World War II.  He has traveled extensively, much of it in Alaska, Siberia and the Arctic.  

 

Photo: Igor Shpilenok

Photo: Igor Shpilenok

Photo: Igor Shpilenok

Photo: Igor Shpilenok

May I introduce you to Maria, the very becomingly and slightly portly, least shy brown bear that we have ever seen. . . and her darling cub? The film crew found her in a protected World Heritage site in Kamchatka, in Russia’s Far East, where she lives with the world’s largest number of simply gorgeous brown bears. Can you even imagine 11,000 of these beautiful creatures wandering about without a care in the world? The bears – well, they are trying to keep this bear paradise a very big secret – and so far, few humans have known they were there. This very exclusive enclave of brown bears likes it that way.

But one of the world’s best nature photographers, Igor Shpilenok , felt that a single documentary filmed for the world audience could be made unobtrusively over six months’ time without upsetting the lives of the stars. The “stars”? The bears, of course. The crew would live in a small house built – well, Igor knew this going in – on the bears’ property. But it would only be in place for a while, Igor said. The film makers would make this area pristine when they were through filming. Once again, it would be home to the bears alone.

Photo: Igor Shpilenok

Photo: Igor Shpilenok

Meet Maria – beautiful, willing to have people observe her at a close distance. . . making her a dream come true to the producer. And sometimes – sometimes – she would bring her cubs a dozen steps closer to the crew . . . honestly, it was as if she wanted to show them off! But then why not? The world had yet to see a family so adorable.

Photo: Igor Shpilenok

Photo: Igor Shpilenok

Without further ado, you must meet Chapay, her most outstanding son – though the crew does not mention their preference around Maria. The baby has so much personality, and he uses his mum to ride on her back in a way no one has ever seen before.

Photo: Igor Shpilenok

Photo: Igor Shpilenok

When the film crew sees that, well – how could they not laugh out loud? And more than once, they laugh so long and so much that it just makes the intended filming impossible. Little Chapay even manages to sleep on mum’s back!

Photo: Igor Shpilenok

Photo: Igor Shpilenok

Photo: Igor Shpilenok

Photo: Igor Shpilenok

Spring comes late at Kamchatka. Bears are surprisingly much like humans in their love of making fools of themselves on a snow hill!

The filmmaker wrote that filming of the bear cubs is currently under threat because the small crew have become totally besotted with the antics that take place in the bear family. “In crucial moments”, Igor said, “we’re lying down in the snow, killing ourselves laughing instead of focusing on work”.

Photo: Igor Shpilenok

Photo: Igor Shpilenok

Sounds like fun to me!!

Looking at these photos of the wondrous life of the brown bear left alone in the wild? Eye-opening to all of us, of course! But even more. . . for the bears are absolutely endearing and positively joyous, warming our hearts!

Photo: Igor Shpilenok

Photo: Igor Shpilenok

Kamchatka’s Bears will be filmed over an eight-month period and then turned into a 90-minute production for release in 2017. It is described as “a unique observation of bear families to uncover the mysteries of the growing up of new-born bear cubs”. It looks to be a “don’t miss”!!

 

JoanAvatar2Writer Joan Larsen has spent a lifetime searching for the most remote places on Earth. But it is the polar regions of our world that she has been drawn back to again and again. She has done research in these lands of ice, and considers Antarctica to be her “other home.”

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