We wish this week had never ended.
Nothing was better than voting for our favorite ball of fur day after day. But Fat Bear Week is over and a winner has been named: 435 Holly, you glorious creature, the crown is yours.
“She is fat. She is fabulous,” Alaska’s Katmai National Park and Preserve, which created the competition five years ago, wrote. “All hail Holly whose healthy heft will help her hibernate until the spring. Long live the Queen of Corpulence.”
And we gotta give it to her, 435 Holly really packed on the pounds before hibernation. In just a little over two months, she completely transformed.
What just happened?
Fat Bear Week is an annual competition, held by the Alaskan park, to crown the fattest bear of the state’s Brook River. The winner is picked with the help of online voters.
The area’s chunkiest bears competed in tough head-to-head matches until Tuesday. The winner of each round was determined by the number of votes they garnered, and then moved on to the next round to face their next competitor.
And if you’re asking if there really were other contenders, the answer is yes. There was a tournament bracket full of them.
Are these bears OK with us calling them fat?
Yes! They strive for it.
“There is no shame in winning this contest as large amounts of body fat in brown bears is indicative of good health and strong chances of survival,” the National Park Service said in a news release.
Alaska’s brown bears are the largest brown bears in the world and eat up to 90 pounds of food each day, including other smaller mammals, salmon, berries, flowers and herbs.
“During winter hibernation, which can last for up to half of the year in their den, a bear could lose up to one third of its body mass. In preparation, the bears are entering hyperphagia this time of year, a state in which they eat nearly non-stop,” NPS said.
Male brown bears weigh anywhere from 600 to 900 pounds and by the time they go into hibernation, can jump up to a staggering 1,000 pounds, NPS said. Adult females usually weigh about a third less. The bears often get so big, that they have to dig a hole to stuff their belly in when they lay down to rest.
How can you protect these tubby tummies?
Take care of your surroundings.
As a friendly reminder, the park said: “Fat bears only exist because of clean water and healthy ecosystems.”
Climate change, for example, poses a big threat to these glorious creatures.
As the sea ice melts and polar bears find themselves on land more often, they begin to compete with brown bears for food.
“Such changes in food selection can result in large ecosystem changes as species adapted to be prey no longer have population control from predators, and other species suffer reduced populations due to additional predation,” NPS said.