Support The Moscow Times!

Russian Bear Model Steals the Spotlight With Fairy-Tale Photoshoots

Stepan is “smart, kind and incredibly beautiful,” his photographer says. zhdanova.mila / Instagram

Russia’s hottest model is a 700-pound, 28-year-old Eurasian brown bear named Stepan.

Standing at over 2 meters tall, this hunk’s photoshoots adorn the pages of the Daily Mail, the Sun and the New York Post.

I've worked with models from Thailand, Australia, Germany, Britain and Israel who have all flown to work with him,” Stepan’s photographer Mila Zhdanova says.

Born in a St. Petersburg zoo, Stepan was adopted by his “second parents” Svetlana and Yury Panteleenko at the tender age of three months after he was abandoned by his own mother, according to his biography 

By age 18, the Panteleenko family “managed to melt the predator’s heart with their love and kindness” and turned Stepan into a film and circus star in Russia.

His latest star turn came with Zhdanova’s fairy-tale-inspired photoshoots alongside models in traditional Russian costumes.

Stepan is so friendly thanks to his trainers' care and love,” Zhdanova, who delights in the foreign press coverage her sessions, which last no more than 30 minutes each, are getting, told British media. 

Zhdanova added that she wants her sessions with Stepan to break the stereotype that Russia is a country of bears and no smiles.

“We do have bears but I want to show in my pictures that we do smile,” she says.

As for Stepan’s animal instincts, his bio points out that he’s “an exception to the rule.”  

“He’s smart, kind and incredibly beautiful.”

Read more

Independent journalism isn’t dead. You can help keep it alive.

The Moscow Times’ team of journalists has been first with the big stories on the coronavirus crisis in Russia since day one. Our exclusives and on-the-ground reporting are being read and shared by many high-profile journalists.

We wouldn’t be able to produce this crucial journalism without the support of our loyal readers. Please consider making a donation to The Moscow Times to help us continue covering this historic time in the world’s largest country.