The sight of a female Marsican bear with her four cubs, in front of the admiring gaze of a small crowd in an Abruzzo village, has been immortalized in a photograph by zoologist Paolo Forconi, who has observed bears for many years.

The image was captured late in the evening on 3 July near the public park of Villalago, a small village which borders onto the vast Parco Nazionale d’Abruzzo Lazio e Molise reports Italian newspaper La Repubblica.

The mother bear already made headlines at the end of May when the national park announced the news of the birth of the four cubs, a very rare event.

In recent days there have been increasing sightings of the bear family – Forconi told La Repubblica – with the animals getting nearer and nearer the village after eating all the wild cherries in the mountainside.

However, he says that local residents have no fear:
“The Marsican bear is a peaceful animal, if it is disturbed or chased it runs away or at best makes the ‘false attack’ running towards the person, making noise and causing a big fright but without even touching the person,” adding that: “We must keep a distance of respect, however, without disturbing them.”
The Marsican brown bear, a subspecies of the brown bear, is critically endangered, with only about 50-60 of the animals left in existence, compared to 100 in 1980.