A video of a 12-year-old boy being shadowed by a brown bear in the Adamello-Brenta Nature Park in Trentino, northern Italy has gone viral.
That boy is Italian national Alessandro Breda and the bear happens to be the offspring of a specimen introduced to the area from Slovenia under the LIFE URSUS and follow on LIFE URSUS II projects.
Alessandro had never heard about LIFE before meeting the bear. But that all changed when he spoke about his experience with the LIFE Programme’s Head of Unit Angelo Salsi.
Alessandro, who impressed Angelo with his self-confidence, positive attitude and sense of reality, describes how it felt to get up close and personal with the bear on that May day.
Angelo: How did you first meet the bear?
Alessandro: I was on a hike with my family. Suddenly, I saw this huge bear looking my way.
Angelo: How did you feel?
Alessandro: I was not scared; I knew what I had to do. Thankfully, I had seen a television programme on how to react when you see a bear. I’d learned that if you yell, the bear can feel threatened.
I managed to stay calm, and I slowly walked down the hill towards my family. I dared not look in the bear’s eyes for fear of challenging him in any way.
It’s hard to explain but I was also excited by the situation and really curious about the bear and what he wanted.
Angelo: What happened next?
Alessandro: I somehow felt in control. I told my grandmother that I was okay and that it would be fine. I then asked my mother’s boyfriend to start filming on his phone. I knew I wanted to have a memory of this special moment.
Even when the bear stood up on his hind legs, I knew he was not being aggressive. He just wanted to have a better view as bears don’t have good eyesight.
I slowly made it down safe and sound.
Angelo: What has life been like since the video went viral?
Alessandro: Well everyone has seen the video. But at the same time, nothing has changed really. I simply returned to my normal life. I can’t wait to go hiking again!
Angelo: What’s your big dream for the future?
Alessandro: I love animals and nature. When I’m older I really want to save the Siberian tiger!
Angelo: Bravo Alessandro. Europe and LIFE are proud of you!
Image: Loris Calliari