Fat Bear Week 2020 is upon us, and I’m not referring to people who have put on a few pounds while flattening the curve in the two weeks since March. I’m talking about literal fat bears and their quest to be crowned the reigning champion.
Lest you think this is about body positivity for bears, it’s not. It’s about bears getting in peak physical form while they prepare to flatten curves of their own. With hibernation season right around the corner, and being masters of sheltering in place, members of genus Ursus pack on more than just a few pounds in preparation. As the National Parks Service says, “Fat bears = healthy bears.”
Thus, we have 12 contenders attempting to eat their way to victory in the NPS Katmai National Park and Preserve “Fat Bear Week 2020” competition.
Will 2019’s victor 435 “Holly” bring home the prize, or will one of her contenders score an upset? As of this time, we don’t know, but — unlike other sports — we do know the season isn’t likely to be suspended. So, without further ado, let’s look at each bear and surmise which is likely to emerge the champion.
We’ll start with the one presently wearing the belt, or at least the one who would be wearing the belt if it hadn’t slipped off her currently svelte waistline.
A mother who has raised at least five litters, including adopting and raising an orphaned cub, Holly is a formidable contender. Her first cub was born in 2007 with a limp, yet she tended to him until his leg healed and she was able to wean and send him off on his own. Then, there’s the adoptee she raised alongside her own cub from 2014-2016.
Holly is obviously tenacious, with a strong desire to win, and can’t be discounted. And with a first-round bye, she automatically heads to the Elite 8, where she’ll face off against the victor of the battle between 32 ‘Chunk’ and 719.
32 ‘Chunk’ vs. 719
Chunk is a beast, both in the figurative and literal senses. One of the larger males, clocking in at 1,100 pounds, he’s at the top of the unwritten bear rankings. Also, he occasionally plays with other bears and sometimes patiently waits for salmon to scavenge.
719, on the other hand, is Holly’s daughter.
Is she as tenacious as her mother, or will her fondness for retaining some juvenile behaviors be a hindrance? It doesn’t matter, because we’re talking about online voting, not actual bear fights, so look for 719 to take the victory because she’s cuter. But what about the remaining first-round battles?
151 ‘Walker’ vs. 856
Walker is a large and dominant male who only gets more assertive with age.
856 is also an assertive male, and he’s one of the largest to occupy the Brooks River, where the competition takes place.
Evenly matched, this battle could get dicey, but again, given that it’s on the internet, the advantage goes to Walker, as he appears to be slightly more photogenic.
402 vs. 812
Next up, we have 402 vs. 812, who sadly seem not to have any real names. 402 is a skilled angler and certified fatty who might also be phat. Her skills as a mother rival, and possibly surpass, Holly’s.
812, a young adult male, is not afraid of a challenge.
812 is also not afraid to test the patience of more dominant bears. The keyword there is “patience.” He’s also a sidler. Advantage: 402 the Mama Bear.
‘Holly’s Cub’ vs. 909
909 is an impressive specimen, to be sure.
But then again, there’s this adorable cub.
Look at that face! Apples don’t fall far from the tree, and this round is a lock for Holly’s Cub.
But competition is only increasing now, as we’re into the Elite 8.
The Quarterfinals — ‘Walker’ vs. 480 ‘Otis’
One of the older competitors, Otis’s stature may have allowed him to escape the first round, but now he has to compete against Walker. While Walker is on the ascent, it’s not his year. Otis uses his patience and even more advanced strategery to advance.
747 vs. 402
747’s number corresponds with a really large plane, which can be considered fat. 402 is one of the most prolific mothers in the Brooks River area. 747 somewhat resembles Baloo from “The Jungle Book,” although it’s unknown if he occasionally breaks into song.
402 is known for being an accomplished angler who is good at getting fat. In this contest, look for 402 to best 747 despite his aeronautic name.
‘Holly’ vs. 719
This is perhaps the most exciting matchup of the entire tournament. In it, we have a mother squaring off against her daughter. Which will triumph, the spirit of competition or a mother’s love?
In this round, look for the latter. 719 is Holly’s daughter, and this is Thor versus Odin rather than Loki versus Odin. Holly takes the victory while 719 graciously bows out.
‘Grazer’ vs. ‘Holly’s Cub’
Grazer is a fierce mother and fisherwoman. It’s the former that’s the bigger disadvantage in this battle. Grazer may smell victory, but her role as a mother means she’s going to flinch in the face of a lovable offspring, even if it’s not her own. Holly’s Cub advances to the Final Four.
The Semifinals — ‘Otis’ vs. 402
This round is no contest. 402 has fishing skills and is a fully certified mama bear. Otis may be a statesman, but in this fight, he loses to the up-and-comer.
This isn’t where the interest is, though. We’re looking for the true battle in this round, at least the true battle that comes before the really true battle.
‘Holly’ vs. ‘Holly’s Club’
Life will never come closer to imitating “Brave” than in this stunning semi-final. Mother against daughter. Blood versus blood. Seasoned fighter taking on a newcomer, one she raised.
Some say — which is another way of saying that I say — that Holly’s Cub is a Cinderella story waiting to happen. Others say — which is another way of saying that I say — “C’mon, man!”
In other words, always bet on the mama bear from Alaska, unless she’s of the figurative sort. Holly takes the win.
The Finals: ‘Holly’ vs. 402
Let’s get ready to rumble.
Remember what I just said about always betting on the mama bear? Well, in this round, bet on the mama bear.
Specifically, bet on 402. Holly may be the reigning champion. She may be an accomplished mother to all. She may be a bad boss lady, but there’s something else. Something I may have mentioned.
This is the internet. Gaze upon 402. Look at that face! 402 is totally going to take this round and emerge as the champion of Fat Bear Week 2020. It’s a lock. Trust me.*
*Any and all bets placed on Fat Bear Week 2020 are the sole responsibility of the bettor and not of this author, nor The Federalist. These are just words on the internet. In fact, don’t place bets on the internet or even vote in online polls. It’s ill-advised and probably illegal where you are anyways.
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