Waving at the camera and kicking off a poolside in Olympic swimmer fashion - these captivating pictures give a revealing insight into the playful nature of majestic polar bears.
The award-winning images were taken by photographer Michael S. Confer after months of trying to get the perfect shot of Coldilocks the bear.
Intent on getting photographs of the 29-year-old beast underwater, patient Michael regularly visited the Philadelphia Zoo near his Armore home. But he returned home disappointed every time after months of visits.
How do you do? Coldilocks waves at the camera during a rare swim at her enclosure at the Philadelphia Zoo
Elegant: The 29-year-old bear pushes off from the side of her pool with the grace of an Olympic swimmer
The giant animal seemed to prefer dry land over her crystal-clear swimming pool each time he popped by to watch her.
He said: 'I have a zoo membership and had been going by the polar area on every visit, hoping to see even a splash. But I had no luck. I spent a long time sat next to her enclosure waiting for her to dive in.'
Michael eventually got lucky during a visit to the enclosure with wife Shannon, 38, a university lecturer, and daughter Normandie, three, when water-shy Coldilocks finally decided to get her giant paws wet.
'I had lost hope and was 50 yards away leaving the polar area when my wife yelled for me to hurry back. I come running back to viewing pane that runs down one side of her pool. There was Coldilocks swimming about ever so gracefully.
'She swam for eight minutes and after setting the camera I was able to take about 140 shots.
Ball games: Coldilocks gets playful and bats a ball around for her audience
'Because of her movement, shooting through glass and dealing with other spectators, most images I got were either blurry or obscured by bubbles. But I did get these five stunning results.
'In the closer images she was only two feet from my face, separated by only a pane of observation glass.
'Looking through the zoom with her pressed so close to me there were a couple of moments where I thought I was a goner. Having such a powerful animal so close really made me feel like I was vulnerable and small.
'After watching her play with her ball she came up to the glass and really peered into the lens. She was really curious about what I was doing.
'I couldn't believe it when she suddenly straightened up and seemed to give me a wave. Then she circled past me and pushed away using her legs like a swimmer. It was an incredible sight.'
Up close: The curious bear peers at the camera following her movements
Michael's jaw-dropping intimate images eventually let him scoop awards for his hard work and persistence.
He was a winner in the Communication Arts 50th Photo Annual unpublished category.
The images were then published in their October photo annual issue. Communication Arts in the US is the largest global trade journal of visual communications .
Two of the images were also selected as winners for the American Society of Media Photographers New York photo competition. They were exhibited in August at the Farmani Gallery in Brooklyn.
Coldilocks was born at Seneca Park Zoo in New York and was moved to Philadelphia in 1981.
She is part of the Ambassadors of Education for the Polar Bear International Partnership. The non-profit project aims to improve worldwide conservation of the polar bear and its natural habitat through teaching people about the animals.
Tammy Schmidt, Curator of Mammals at Philadelphia Zoo, said: 'Coldilocks loves playing with her ball and gets along very well with her sister Klondike, who she shares her enclosure with.'
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