The brown bear is an impressive animal: 1.80 to 2 metres standing, 250 to 300 kilos for the males, 150 to 200 kilos for females.
Thick brown fur covers the body and paws.
The brown bear lives alone or in small family groups in mountainous and wooded areas, where it rules over a vast hunting territory. Once widespread in Europe, it is still to be found in the wild in the Pyrenees, the Italian Alps and the Carpathians, and in the Balkans, Sweden, Norway and Finland.
Life expectancy is 40 to 50 years. The bear is omnivorous. Its diet is very varied: fruits, insects, small mammals, frogs, fish and honey.
It is a all-round athlete: it can run at speeds of 40 km an hour, swim and climb trees. Its exceptional strength, excellent reflexes and powerful claws make it a formidable foe which fears neither man nor beast. However its vision is poor.
It was and still is hunted for its fur, flesh, teeth and claws.
Bears mate in May. As winter approaches, the bear, which has laid down stores of fat, finds a secure hiding place where it will sleep alone until spring. In this lair the female gives birth in January every other year to one or two cubs.
At birth they weigh no more than 300 to 400 grammes. The cubs are blind until they are four or five weeks old, and live clinging to their mother's fur, alternately sleeping and suckling. The she-bear does not venture out with her cubs until fine weather arrives, towards the month of May. The cubs are raised by the mother alone: she teaches them to hunt, fish, gather fruits, swim.