TALLINN - The residents of Ruhnu will be given a 36-kilogram chocolate bear to compensate for the departure of an ice-traveling brown bear which spent a summer on the tiny Estonian island. Latvian confectionary maker Laima crafted the huge chocolate bear and presented it to the administrator of Ruhnu island on April 4.
It won't be the first time a Latvian bear has surprised Ruhnu residents. Last April a 150 kilogram brown bear floated across the Gulf of Riga on a detached piece of ice. It arrived on Ruhnu, a 12-sq km island that is home to just 60 residents.
It stayed on the island all summer, evading sharp-shooters who were dispatched to tranquilize and remove the bear. But it left as unexpectedly as it arrived, disappearing at the end of summer, leaving locals to presume it had swum home to Latvia.
Laima marketing manager Dace Mende said it was hoped the chocolate bear wouldn't frighten Ruhnu folk as much as the real bear did last year.
"As we know, chocolate positively stimulates the pleasure centers of the brain, that's why we hope that our chocolate bear will improve the mood of Ruhnu island inhabitants and they no longer will be afraid of the bears," Mende said.
"Keeping in mind how much the bear scared the inhabitants of the island, in honor of this event's first anniversary we decided to present Ruhnu island with this Laima chocolate bear."
Locals are unsure what to do with the chocolate bear. Aare Sunter, head of the rural municipality, said they would like to preserve the bear in a glass case.
"If it cannot be preserved very long the chocolate will have to be shared among the people of Ruhnu after some time," Sunter said.