Katmai National Park and Preserve in Alaska is celebrating Fat Bear Week. Part of that celebration is a tournament-style competition to crown the title of Fattest Bear.
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But there’s no fat shaming here. In brown bears, large amounts of body fat are indicative of good health and strong chances of survival. The bears need stores of fat to help them survive hibernation, which can last for up to half of the year. Over the course of winter hibernation in the den, a bear could lose up to one third of its body mass. In preparation, this time of year the bears are entering hyperphagia, a state in which they eat nearly non-stop. Since July, the bears have seen dramatic and transformative weight gain that will be on full display during Fat Bear Week.
The voting happens each day at the park’s Facebook page. You’ll see a couple of pictures of each bear in competition to show how well they’ve gained weight over the summer. The winner will be crowned after the championship round closes next Tuesday. Go, bears! -via Metafilter