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.”

… we have a small favor to ask.

As you may have heard, The Moscow Times, an independent news source for over 30 years, has been unjustly branded as a "foreign agent" by the Russian government. This blatant attempt to silence our voice is a direct assault on the integrity of journalism and the values we hold dear.

We, the journalists of The Moscow Times, refuse to be silenced. Our commitment to providing accurate and unbiased reporting on Russia remains unshaken. But we need your help to continue our critical mission.

Your support, no matter how small, makes a world of difference. If you can, please support us monthly starting from just 2. It's quick to set up, and you can be confident that you're making a significant impact every month by supporting open, independent journalism. Thank you.


Read more