When you've spent the first three months of your life snuggled up to your mother in her den, the Arctic seems a cold and daunting place.
So a reassuring cuddle never comes amiss.
These heart-warming images of a polar bear's introduction to the outside world were taken on the coast of Alaska.
The mother bear spends about three weeks with the cub in the area of her snow hole, allowing it to acclimatise, before leading it out on to the sea ice to learn the art of seal hunting.
I love you, Mum: The cub snuggles against its mother as the pair appear to take a little nap in the powdery Arctic snow
The pictures were taken by U.S. environmentalist Steven Kazlowski, 40, who was touring the region with an Inupiat Eskimo guide.
Spending months at a time away on expeditions, Mr Kazlowski has only now been able to share them with the world.
Mr Kazlowski said: 'We set up camp over two miles away, built a snow blind nearer to the den so we could watch without disturbing them, and then waited patiently.
'The mother would emerge with her little one in tow, and I was able to photograph them for a couple of days until, one calm clear evening, she left with her cub to head out on the sea ice.
'The cub was probably 13-14 weeks old or so. It was probably born early January last and spent its first weeks huddled up to mum safely inside the den.
'It's always exciting to see polar bears in nature. I will never tire of it as they are fascinating creatures. It is always special.'
Peekaboo: The mother polar bear and her cub just outside their snow den, pausing as the newborn takes in the great wide world for the first time
It's spring! The cub's excitement at the brand new world is obvious to see
However Mr Kazlowski, who this year lectured at the UN climate change conference COP-15 in Copenhagen, said he feels that sights like this will soon be lost to the history books thanks to global warming.
The oceans where the bears depend on the formation of summer sea ice so that they can hunt out at sea appear to be changing at an alarming rate, he said.
He said: 'Photographing bears I have seen first-hand how the Arctic is changing drastically in our lifetime.
'This past April, temperatures over the Chukchi Sea reached a record-breaking 40f (4c).
'In some areas the sea ice was extremely thin. Polar bears need that ice to survive. The Arctic environment is paying the price for the way our society has lived.'
Cuddles: The mother playfully nips at the cub as they frolic in the snow. The cub is believed to be about three months old
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/worldne ... -time.html
- Related topics
- Last post