The cubs were literally sinking and would have perished without the quick-thinking intervention of the Russian tourists.

Fishermen rescued two drowning wild brown bear cubs in a Russian lake with video footage showing the remarkable affinity between beast and man.

The heart-warming film and pictures highlight how the frightened bears placed their total faith in the tourists in a boat on Lake Vygozero in the Karelia region of northern Russia.

In the footage, thought to have been taken last month, the wild animals had lost their mother crossing the lake after she overestimated their swimming abilities. The eyes and expressions of one of the bears showed utter fear and desperation, instinctively knowing only the fishermen could save them.

Ruslan Lukanin, from Moscow, said: 'They had swum[across the lake] with their mother. 'But she overestimated her strength and swam away. 'The cubs began to sink.

'We picked them up and dragged them to the island to which their mother had swum. 'It was dangerous, of course. 'But they are living creatures. 'We couldn't just look the other way.'

Extraordinary images show the light-faced cub seemingly pleading the fishermen to save it, with the tourists wanting to help but conscious that they were rescuing wild animals that could also attack them.

The men took them to one of 500-plus islands on the lake - where their mother had swum, evidently unaware of the desperate plight of her offspring.

Ready to drop, the cubs had to be helped into the forest.

'They were too weak to walk by themselves,' said one of the fishermen.

They took the bears into the trees hoping that their neglectful mother would find them and help them recover.


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