Last week we couldn’t resist publishing a story on Fat Bear Week: an entire week dedicated to the brown bears of Katmai National Park who have stuffed themselves as much as possible in preparation for the winter hibernation. To celebrate the amazing sight of giant, chubby bears roaming the national park, park rangers made a game out of the process—a March Madness-style bracket matching bear against bear, each with photos proving girth and inviting the public to vote on the fattest bear in each pair. The winners move on to the next round; the losers are out.
Well, now the week is up and a winner has been chosen. It’s Holly, a fabulously fat bear that accumulated 17,500 votes from fans on the Internet. According to the rangers, getting a good picture of Holly out of the water was incredibly hard since “she was a submarine for the entire month,” fishing non-stop for salmon. The funny thing is that if you see a photo of Holly before the salmon feast began, she’s unrecognizably small, a mere fraction of the gloriously big bear out fishing today.
Holly and all of this year’s 12 contestants are coastal brown bears that forage along the Brooks River. The Alaskan waterway has one of the largest concentrations of sockeye salmon in the world, and the bears there take full advantage.