Talk about the ultimate photobomb.
12-year-old Alessandro Breda has gone viral after showing incredible bravery while out on a hike with his family in the Dolomites, in Italy’s northern region of Trentino-Sud Tyrol.
The heart-stopping moment, captured by the boy’s father, shows the young boy tiptoeing away from the giant brown bear, who continues to shadow his every move down the mountain.
“Come, Ale, come,” photographer Loris Calliari can be heard saying behind the camera. It is understood Mr Calliari is the partner of the boy’s mother.
“Don’t turn your back to him.”
The video has since gone viral with commenters praising the lack fear coming from the young boy.
Alessandro, who was walking ahead of his family at the time of the encounter, said in an interview with Italian broadcaster RAI, that he didn’t run away because he’d recently watched a video on how to behave if you run into a bear.
“I’d learned that if you yell, the bear becomes agitated and becomes much more aggressive,” he said, noting he didn’t yell and simply walked away slowly.
According to the New York Times, Mr Calliari, Alessandro, his mother and other family members came across the bear while hiking above 6500 feet (2km) in the region. They had gone to pick the buds of the mugo pine tree, which are used to make syrup.
“I’m pretty sure that the bear had been sleeping, because we hadn’t seen it coming up,” Mr Calliari said.
Mr Calliari said that since posting the video, he has been bombarded with people asking why he would film the moment rather than protect the boy.
But he says he felt confident Alessandro was in no danger, and the bear wasn’t bracing for attack.
“Alessandro wandered off a few metres and then we saw him coming out of the bushes followed by a bear,” his uncle, Federico, told The Telegraph.
“We were obviously alarmed but he was really calm.”
As a keen adventurer, Alessandro said the encounter was “the best day” of his life.
“I really hoped something like that would happen,” he told La Stampa newspaper.
“When I saw the bear pop up from the bushes I was really excited.
“I knew I must not surprise the bear and that I just had to move away from it. I didn’t look it in the eyes – I didn’t want the bear to see me as a threat.”