Crowdfunding campaign for Russian air bear

Mansur the Russian bear who lives at an airfield, 2019 Image copyright YouTube/Mansur the Bear
Image caption Mansur had no fear of flying from an early age

Staff at a Russian airfield have turned to crowdfunding on the internet after a foundling bear became too much for them to handle.

Mansur the bear has lived at an airfield in Russia for the last three years, but as he moves into adulthood his hosts have decided to seek some help with his daily upkeep.

Vintage plane restorers found the orphaned newborn cub wandering hungry and afraid about their private airfield in Tver Region northwest of Moscow, and cared for him the best they could, Komsomolskaya Pravda newspaper reports.

But as he grew bigger, his needs became too much for the amateur zookeepers, and a nature reserve advised them that Mansur was too accustomed to people to be able to adapt to living in the wild - he had even befriended the pet husky dog of one of the pilots.

Then the staff of Oreshkovo aerodrome in nearby Kaluga Region came to the rescue, and offered to look after the bear in the more spacious grounds of their decommissioned air base.

Mansur now has his own enclosure, which is constantly maintained by a dedicated team of staff and volunteers, and a fenced-off area of adjacent woodland to roam in at will.

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Once settled in Oreshkovo, Mansur the Air Bear became a hit with the public both in person and online - even making it into the British press - but three years later his upkeep is becoming more than a matter of space and devotion.

The aerodrome told Komsomolskaya Pravda that Mansur's "monthly expenses" - when he isn't hibernating - run to about 30,000 roubles (£350; $452) for food, staff costs, and maintenance of the enclosure.

But pilot Andrei Ivanov says they hope to use the bear's Instagram following to generate income for his upkeep, namely through live-streaming his activities for all to enjoy - and perhaps pay for the privilege.

Image copyright Instagram/mansurebear
Image caption Andrei and Mansur: one man and his bear

Andrei is Mansur's guardian, and takes his responsibilities very seriously - as he explained to several bemused potential brides when he took part in Russian TV's hit show "Let's Get Married!" in December.

He set up a livestream on his YouTube page, and racked up 18,000 subscribers in a matter of days.

Viewers can contribute money via Mansur's page on the popular DonationAlerts service, whose Yelena Inozharskaya told Komsomolskaya Pravda this was a first for the company.

'Ready for a bear'

"Usually our clients blog about playing computer games, cooking, drawing, dancing or travelling. It's hard to find anything that hasn't been streamed yet, but we're ready to help a bear earn some money," she said. The public can see how close they are to meeting each specific target on a live tracker - the first objective being to build the young bear a pool that he can bathe in as spring approaches.

This could be welcome choice. As Andrei Ivanov says, "Our Air Bear hasn't hibernated all winter".

Image copyright YouTube/Andrei Ivanov
Image caption Mansur eyes his future pool expectantly

Reporting by Martin Morgan

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