The marmots and me: The schoolboy, 8, who has struck up a remarkable friendship with a colony of alpine animals.
The eight-year-old built up a remarkable relationship with the creatures since first being taken to see them by his nature-loving family four years ago.
The family return to visit the colony in Groslocker in the Austrian Alps for two weeks every year.
Matteo’s mother Michaela said: ‘Their friendship has lasted for more than four years now.
'He loves those animals and they are not at all afraid of Matteo because he has a feeling towards them and they understand that.
‘We go there every year now for two weeks - it’s amazing to watch the connection between a boy and his animal friends.’
Marmots stand at around 18cm tall and reach up to 50cm in length.
Bizarrely, the animals are heavier in the autumn, when they can weigh up to 8kg, in comparison to 3kg in the spring months.
Michaela, a schoolteacher from Innsbruck, Austria, has uniquely captured the unique bond between Matteo and his marmot friends throughout the past four years.
He said: ‘I could spend hours watching animals - it gives me a connection with nature and its life forms.
'It’s great that I have been able to document the marmot’s natural behaviour around Matteo without making them afraid of me and my equipment.
'I wanted to capture the animals exactly the way I see them - the way they behave among each other, in harmony with their surroundings.'
It is clear from the pictures that Matteo and the marmots are totally comfortable in each other’s company.
Michaela, 46, said: ‘The picture of a curious animal approaching me is a thousand times more beautiful than the picture of any animal looking at me in fear before it takes flight.
'This is how I try to picture the proudest, more beautiful and also the funniest moments, giving others the opportunity to enjoy the miraculous world of animals.’
Today I read some upsetting news, that one of my favourite places in the whole world has been issued with an eviction notice.
I would be so immensely grateful if you could take a moment to make a submission to the Italian government and request they reconsider their decision to close this sanctuary.
Please visit this page and show your support. You are welcome to copy and paste my submission (which was adapted from their template):
As a supporter and visitor to the Largo di Torre Argentina, I am extremely worried by the threat to close this facility.
I have visited Rome several times, and it is one of my favourite cities in the world. The cat sanctuary is definitely a highlight, and it will be detrimental if it is to close. I ask that this sanctuary be allowed to stay in its current location, and that Rome recognise the amazing work the volunteers do.
The cat sanctuary is self supporting (thanks to donations from all over the word) and does not cost the government anything. In turn, the Italian government should be supporting this worthwhile charity by allowing it to remain on its current site.
Reversing the eviction notice would bring many benefits to the city. For instance, it is because of this haven for cats that Rome has earned international recognition in the care and protection of animals. I am sure this is a label the city does not wish to lose.
I sincerely hope that you do not force the sanctuary to close. It would be upsetting to cat lovers all around the world, including as far away as New Zealand.
Thank you for listening to my submission.
Please also help by reblogging this post and sharing it on other social media if possible.