Most couples who are unable to have kids usually turn to adoption as a way around raising a family of their own. But one Russian couple have taken a completely different approach.
The idea of sharing your home with a 300lb grizzly bear sounds less than accommodating. In fact, I’m sure the moment a window of opportunity crops up where you can abandon your gaff for a bear-free abode you would jump at it.
The setting may sound unconventional – not to mention dangerous – but for Svetlana and Yuriy Panteleenko they couldn’t fathom life without their 25-year-old bear, Stepan.
Dwarfing both the husband and wife, the 7ft mammal is tall enough to be a centre in any NBA starting line-up. But despite his imposing figure, Stepan is just as domesticated and well behaved as your standard pet. He’s even well behaved enough to sit with Svetlana and Yuriy to watch TV in the evenings.
He’s been known to occasionally help around the house by watering the plants in their garden, which is just as well that someone of his frame pulls his weight around the house. It also appears there’s a hint of truth to the story of Goldilocks and the Three Bears as he goes through bowls of porridge each day. However, he can’t resist going through his favourite dish either, a can of condensed milk.
Naturally, taking care of a 7ft, 300lb bear is no cake walk, it requires a lot of time, effort and money. For the meals alone, Svetlana and Yuriy feed Stepan 25kg of fish, vegetables and eggs.
The good news is Stepan is a very active bear and a football fanatic. So the weight he piles on from his daily meals gets worked off.
Stepan came into Svetlana and Yuriy’s lives when the couple adopted the bear when he was just three months old. 25 years on the gentle grizzly has become pretty much part of the Panteleenko family. The couple has known the bear for so long they claim he has a gentle temperament and can be often found curled up on their sofa.
Stepan likes nothing more than to cuddle up with us on the sofa at night while we’re watching television.
When we adopted him, he was only three-months-old and had been found by hunters in the forest having lost his mother. He was in a very bad condition.
He absolutely loves people and is a really sociable bear – despite what people might think, he is not aggressive at all. We have never been bitten by Stepan.
He’s got so many talents and loves a picnic. It’s a wonder he doesn’t eat us out of house and home.
For those unfamiliar with Russian culture, the bear is a symbol of the nation, much in the same way America identifies with the bald eagle and the England has claimed the lion (despite being from Africa).
However, Russia’s affinity for the bear can sometimes go overboard. In the run-up to this year’s World Cup, there were even legitimate concerns the Russian FA would try to train bears to present the match ball.
Suppose you save having to buy a guard dog.
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