While shooting a snowboarding video in Kamchatka, Russia, ski-tour company Helipro unintentionally filmed a mountain hare bolting headlong into an avalanche. Amazingly, the brazen hare made it through the churning snow to emerge seemingly uninjured on the other side, earning itself instant internet fame.
The video was released this week and has amassed over two million hits on Vimeo, with some viewers a little unconvinced about the authenticity of the clip. Helipro has assured the public that the video is real and even posted a photo of the hare on Facebook that was taken after its death-defying dash. Mountain hares (Lepus timidus) are well-adapted to life in places like Kamchatka, with large feet and lightweight bodies that help them travel nimbly on loose snow without sinking.
It’s unlikely that the hare intended its mad dash across the snow. Dana Krempels, a University of Miami biology lecturer who studies rabbits and hares, told The Dodo that she's unsure why a hare would hurtle itself headlong into an avalanche, but she’s certain that it would have walked away without injury.
"I don't think he got severely beat up," Krempels explained. "I think as long as you're not buried in the snow, you have a good chance of being just fine caught in a snowfall like that."
"Those big feet sure came in handy," she added.
Header image: Robert Hest