For a heart-warming – or least bear-warming – tale, consider the crew of a Russian army Mi-26 helicopter on a routine transport flight in the Arctic zone who spotted a lone polar bear cub wandering along the Chukota shore. Taking a few passes and seeing no trace of the cub’s mother, they set down to help. According to the airmen, the bear was exhausted and not at all aggressive, so they gave it a little warm food and brought it on board.

The cub – now named Umka after a popular Russian cartoon bear – “wandered around inside the helicopter, looked around and made friends with its rescuers”.

The crew deserve credit for more than rescuing an adorable, furry creature; polar bears are registered in Russia's Red Book of endangered species, and Umka is now safe in a wildlife reserve on Wrangel Island.

Umka cartoon bearUmka cartoon bear 300

Umka... ...and Umka...

Mi-26 600

...and an Mi-26 (photo courtesy Russian Helicopters)