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Sulo Karjalainen with his bear friend, Juuso. A screen capture from YouTube.

It took only one look for Juuso, the most famous bear in Finland, to declare that it’s time to go back to sleep. The weather was simply too cold. “His nose came out from his nest, and there he was observing the weather for a moment but went back to sleep,” said Sulo Karjalainen, the owner of the Predator Center in Kuusamo, where Juuso lives.

Karjalainen has been friends with Juuso for years. He has even slept in the winter nest, next to his bear buddy. The special bond between the bear and the man has turned heads even on the highest level of Finnish leadership.

President Sauli Niinistö invited Karjalainen to last year’s Independence Day reception and quoted him in his New Year’s speech: “There an animal looks at a human being, and the human being at the animal, face to face. Do they understand something, even a lot, about each other? Humanity or animality, both creatures of nature,” Niinistö [highlight color=#FFFF00 ]said[/highlight] in his speech.

According to Karjalainen, Juuso is likely to wake from his hibernation in the beginning of May, after May Day. The waking process is slow, and the bear is not ready to devour food. “The appetite will return slowly. We will only eat small pieces,” Karjalainen said.

When Juuso will be hungry again, he will be rewarded with honey.