It’s almost winter in Alaska, and to the furry inhabitants of Katmai National Park, that means one thing: It’s time to get profoundly, gloriously large.
Brown bears have been busy fattening up for cold-weather hibernation, and boy, is it a sight to behold. Park officials are celebrating the annual plumping by pitting the bears against each other in a March Madness-esque contest: Fat Bear Week, now in its fourth year.
Each day this week, the park’s social-media followers can vote between two ample opponents spotted on the park’s bear cam. The bear with more “likes” advances in the bracket.
On Wednesday, a portly contender named Divot out-chunked an unnamed “young upstart,” bear No. 503, the park revealed. (He’s got to literally make a name for himself.) And also on Wednesday, Walker was no match against 2015’s Fattest Bear, Beadnose, a zaftig mama who’s been indulging in sweet, salmony freedom since her cubs struck out on their own this past summer.
Today, Beadnose faces off against reigning Fattest Bear and previous champion Otis. The final championship showdown is set for Tuesday.
No matter which bear takes the title, all are bastions of body confidence: “In brown bears, large amounts of body fat are indicative of good health and strong chances of survival,” a statement from the park reads. “The bears need stores of fat to help them survive hibernation, which can last for up to half of the year.”
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