Normally, these critters are wary of human beings, but a small group of Alpine Marmots have warmed up to one little boy from Austria, named Matteo Walch.
Matteo and the group of marmots have been about four years at this point, but he doesn’t keep them as pets. Instead, he sees them once a year when his family takes a two week vacation to the Austrian Alps.
Each time he returns, his furry friends greet him with affection and a surprising amount of recognition. His mother Michaela Walch has been documenting her son’s interactions with the marmots all four years, and is appropriately astounded by the unique bond Matteo shares with these normally-reclusive animals.
“He loves those animals, and they are not at all afraid of Matteo because he has a feeling towards them and they understand that,” Michaela said. “We go there every year now for two weeks, it’s amazing to watch the connection between a boy and his animal friends.”
Scroll through the adorable photos below.