Welcome to ! Katmai National Park and Preserve’s brown bears spent the summer gorging on 4,500-calorie salmon, and they’ve transformed into rotund giants, some over 1,000 pounds. The park is holding its annual playoff-like competition for the fattest of the fat bears (you can between Sept. 30 and Oct. 6). Mashable will be following all the ursine activity.
Two hugely successful bears will meet in the Fat Bear Week finals on Tuesday, Oct. 6. So exercise the power of your vote!
It’s colossal bear 747 vs bear 32, “Chunk.” Both spent much of their Alaskan summer devouring the skin, eggs, flesh, and brains of calorie-rich sockeye salmon in Katmai National Park and Preserve, and both clearly benefited. A fat bear is a healthy bear. Fat bears have a good shot at surviving Alaska’s long, harsh winter hibernation.
“Each winter, curled snug in their dens, brown bears endure a months-long famine,” Katmai’s rangers told Mashable. “During hibernation, bears will not eat or drink and they will lose one-third of their body weight. Their winter survival depends on accumulating ample fat reserves before entering the den.”
The images below show how both bears have enlarged over the past few months. The pictures compare the animals in early summer versus September.
Voting is easy. You vote directly on the explore.org website between noon and 10 p.m. ET. (Explore.org is the nature livestreaming organization that has bear cams along Katmai’s Brooks River.)
Both contenders are big, dominant bears, meaning they earn access to some of the most fruitful fishing spots on the Brooks River. They displace smaller, younger, or less intimidating bears.
Bear 32 “carries substantial fat reserves, especially on his hindquarters,” notes explore.org. Bear 32, aka “Chunk,” is around 17 years old, still in his bear prime, and has been sometimes spotted stealing fish from other bears.
Bear 747 is a giant bear, and undoubtedly the biggest bear of the Brooks River (but is he the fattest?). He’s around 20 years old, is excellent at fishing, and is the second most dominant bear of the Brooks River. (Bear 856 is the longtime boss of the river).
Now that you’re an informed voter, exercise your democratic power.