Bear 435, aka Holly, is officially the heavyweight, chonky champion of Fat Bear Week.
Taking place between October 2-8, the Katmai National Park and Reserve put the year’s fattest bears to a public vote – this time, a queen has emerged from the nominees.
Facing off against big boys like Lefty, Chunk and Grazer, Holly beat the competition to take home the crown.
After 12 hours of online voting, Holly had about 17,500 votes, while Lefty had about 3,600. The park announced the winner on their Facebook page, calling Holly a ‘fat and fabulous champion’.
The park’s post reads:
She is fat. She is fabulous. She is 435 Holly. And you voted her the 2019 Fat Bear Week Champion. All hail Holly whose healthy heft will help her hibernate until the spring. Long live the Queen of Corpulence!
The Alaska bears have been gorging on as much food as possible, building up essential fat reserves in the lead-up to hibernation. As such, many of the fuzzballs have ballooned in size before getting toasty for the winter.
Before hibernating, bears can weigh up to double their usual weight after their glorious feasting. Naomi Boak, a Katmai Conservancy Media Ranger, said Holly deserved her win.
As reported by NPR, Boak said:
It was very hard to get a good picture [of Holly] out of the water, because she was a submarine for the entire month. She did not stop fishing, except to dig a belly hole big enough for her to sleep in.
Holly, along with her fellow contestants, is a brown bear who forages along the Brooks River. With the Alaskan waterway having one of the highest concentrations of sockeye salmon across the world, the furry residents along the banks are frequent customers.
The Queen of Fat Bear Week is also a fantastic mother, having reared a number of cubs – Holly even adopted and raised a lost cub that wasn’t her own. That bear, 503, was also in the chunky competition but was knocked out in the quarter-finals by Grazer, an infamous chonk-meister.
Last year’s contest was popular, but the numbers this time are through the roof – 187,000 votes were cast, more than three times higher than 2018’s total.
While it’s an adorable event, Boak and her fellow Katmai Conservancy media ranger Brooklyn White hope the fun makes people aware of how essential the Brooks River is for wildlife.
As reported by NPR, White said:
Not all bears have this same kind of access to these salmon resources and to an ecosystem that has such clean water.
Congratulations Holly, you chonky beauty.
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After graduating from Glasgow Caledonian University with an NCTJ and BCTJ-accredited Multimedia Journalism degree, Cameron ventured into the world of print journalism at The National, while also working as a freelance film journalist on the side, becoming an accredited Rotten Tomatoes critic in the process. He’s now left his Scottish homelands and took up residence at UNILAD as a journalist.