• Meet Sulo – the Bearman

  • Juuso is the largest of Sulo Karjalainen’s bears and the big star of the Predator Centre. He was adopted by Sulo when orphaned as a cub.

  • Bears love fruit and berries. Tessu won’t spend long just snuffling at that watermelon.

  • The lynx is Finland’s largest big cat and is a very rare sight in the wild.

  • Sulo has lived in Kuusamo in northern Finland all his life. The area’s varied landscape might have been made for nature lovers. There’s plenty to see.

  • Recommended

    You might also like these fine articles:

    • Moose on the loose

      Moose on the loose

      Unlike reindeer, moose are truly wild animals and avoid contact with humans as much as possible. For a sure sighting of this majestic animal head to the wildlife parks and zoos around the country.

    • Doze Off under the Northern Lights

      Doze Off under the Northern Lights

      In Finland, nature’s most spectacular light show, the Aurora Borealis, can be viewed in a range of purpose-built spaces from glass igloos to luxury suites.

    • I wish I was
      in Finland

      – get all the latest info and updates from our Facebook group.

Meet Sulo – the Bearman

In Finland, everybody loves living close to nature but Sulo Karjalainen, who lives surrounded by predators, takes it to extremes.

If you head about 30 kilometres south from Kuusamo, in the north of Finland, you may end up at an old farm on the shore of a lake. Recently, and over a short period of time, this spot has become quite a talking point and most Finns would recognise the name of its owner. Sulo Karjalainen has featured in numerous newspaper articles and he has even had his own TV documentary, as people have become fascinated by Sulo – because his relationship with Finland’s predators is something out of the ordinary.

“If you’re born in the woods, there’s something of the animal in you too”

– People know me because of the animals. That makes me happy. When you’ve lived in the forest since childhood, you’re naturally close to animals. I remember when I was a little boy I used to spend days in the sheep pen while my mother was milking the cows. I wasn’t even ten before I first saw a bear in the wild.

An orphanage for predators

– My home has turned into an orphanage for predators almost by accident. I was working on a research project and that led to people sending me bears that had been orphaned in collisions with cars or by hunting. Of course, I looked after them until they were well, and if they couldn’t be released into the wild again, they stayed here with me. It’s all just happened naturally and it’s been very rewarding. I’ve always aimed to give the animals everything they need and make sure they lead good lives. At the same time a deep bond has grown up between us.

The midnight sun means summer

– I’ve lived on the same farm in northern Finland all my life. There is plenty of wildlife here, lots of water and a varied forested landscape. I wouldn’t live anywhere else, especially not in the summer when it’s light throughout the night. Some tourists are bothered by the midnight sun and cover the windows of their hotel rooms with thick curtains so they can get to sleep. As I see it it’s the other way round. If the sun isn’t shining all night long, it doesn’t feel like summer at all.




The nature plays a big role in the life of a Finn. The wilderness is even closer in Lapland than in Southern Finland because the majority of the population of Finland is located in the south.