Alaska hosts its annual competition to see which fat bear will be the fan favorite.
Every October for the past five years, Katmai National Park in Alaska has held a week dedicated to the beautiful, majestic and chunky bears that live there. The park has the public vote “march madness style” on their Facebook page to see what bear ends up winning. The winner is announced on “fat bear Tuesday” which this year was Oct. 8.
The week began with 12 big bears ready to go against each other and win the heavy set championship title. By Tuesday, it was just down to two. In one corner was No. 435, or Holly. She is a kind bear, known for adopting a lost cub in 2015. In the other corner was No. 775 Lefty, most notable for a fantastic belly flop into the river (the video of which can be found on Katmai’s Facebook).
Come Oct. 8, it was time to vote. After the 12-hour voting period on Katmai’s Facebook, Holly ended with a tally of around 17,500 and Lefty with just 3,600. It was no doubt that Holly was this years winner, being dubbed the Queen of Corpulence.
The fans on Facebook confirmed it, with one writing that “there’s no doubt Lefty is a HULK of a bear … but to me, Holly made the greatest transformation.” This was a sentimentality that most people felt. They loved Lefty, and recognized his greatness, but also realized that he’s been a chonky boy all year and didn’t have to put on much weight from the summer. Holly however, went from a sweet, skinny bear, to a full-on circle.
The park noted that it was difficult to get a picture of Holly out of the water because all month she had been swimming in the river and catching fish. Holly is the independent, hard working and beautiful bear that all of us need in our life right now, and the competition may be something we all need too.
Katmai Park hosts this competition as a form of awareness to educate people on the drastic change that the bears go through each fall. Naomi Boak, the conservancy media ranger, wants to let everyone know that “this isn’t fat shaming.” Instead, it is a celebration of nature doing exactly what it is supposed to do.
The park has felt it fair deal of climate change, and the summer was the hottest on record, but that didn’t stop these bears from doing what they have always done — becoming absolute units in order to survive through hibernation.
The park has a livestream on explore.org where fans can go and see their favorite big bears move throughout the park. The livestream is a great place for people that can’t make it up all the way to Alaska to visit their favorite bears, and it’s just a nice video to relax to. The New Yorker stated the livestream was “a place of zen,” and it is indeed a beautiful scene to watch.
Fat Bear Week 2019 has been the largest on record with 187,000 votes cast, more than three times last years total. More people are learning about this glorious competition each year and want to join in on the party of celebrating these glorious, plump, creatures. So mark your calendars for next year and make sure to cast your vote for the best fat bear at Katmai National Park.