Ilpo Kojola, a research professor at the Natural Resources Center, characterizes the bear as extremely rare and unusual. Veijo Toivoniemi, a local from Haapajoki, was the one to spot and capture the striking polar bear’s presence.
Toivoniemi captured these unique images in Kuhmo Lentiira, a well-known bear watching spot a few kilometers away from the Russian border. “The area is home to several bears, and viewing stations have been established specifically for observing these magnificent creatures,” he elaborates. Toivoniemi adds, “All bears are wild creatures, they’re certainly not domesticated.”
He recalls, “People are generally intimidated by bears, and one has to stay quiet in the observation booths. We were aware of such a bear being sighted in the region previously, but no photographic evidence was available. I was fortunate to have ideal conditions and a bit of luck.” The bear lingered in the region for about 10-15 minutes.
Being a few kilometers from the Russian border, Toivoniemi had a unique opportunity to see and photograph the polar bear, an experience he found extraordinary. “It was a fantastic experience, one that is very rare, and probably a once-in-a-lifetime event. Of course, one never knows for sure, but I think this will be unique—an unforgettable experience,” he shares.
For 17 years, Toivoniemi has actively engaged in nature photography and even runs a column in a local newspaper. Despite his extensive experience, he doesn’t claim to be an expert able to explain why this particular bear is white. He refers to the bear as an “exceptionally colorful individual.”
Ilpo Kojola echoes Toivoniemi’s sentiments and agrees that such bear sightings are uncommon even on a global scale. “The bear is not albino, but it is intensely pale. I cannot recall ever seeing a blond bear,” says Kojola, adding, “There may be a few of these around the world. But it remains, indeed, an exceptionally colorful individual.”