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  • Dean Bainbridge

Kinda Love The Fat Bears

I’ll admit it. I’m late to the party... but this story bears repeating. (Bear puns!)

Ladies, gentlemen and lovers of gentle but potentially lethal wildlife... Fat Bear Week 2018 has concluded with a nail (and salmon) biting finale.

For a few years now, the Park Rangers of Brooks Falls Alaska have been running a charming little competition online for their beloved collection of 13 wild bears. Live cams have been rolling to allow the avid public to watch these furry friends live their best lives in the wild. The ‘competition’ is to guess which bear will have the biggest belly before they plod off to hibernate for the winter. I know, right. CUTE!

Let’s go back another step.

For quite a few years before this, (like centuries before the cams went in) brown bears have come to this part of their stream to snatch salmon and absolutely gorge themselves silly. Many aim to quadruple their BMI to ensure a happy, healthy snooze for a few months and god, I’m so there. As is always the case when nature gets something so right and the balance of life is maintained for eternity, us humans do stupid stuff to threaten this balance. But not in Brooks Falls. Not now.

Okay, we can go forward a step again.

This year’s epic Fat Beer Week garnered a tonne of attention from cam watchers and via social media feeds. This thoughtful and mindful international community is, in a word, sublime. The friendly banter and eager support for the contenders was all done with whimsy and joy. Exchanges between contending bear ‘camps’ was fun and irreverent. Much consideration went into the individual bears form and the skills they bought to the competition.

The 'Draw' for 2018

The exposure this generated clearly promotes a care for wildlife and for conservation of all pristine regions of this planet. (For the record there are more places humans aren’t, than are. And we should keep it this way.) In the 2018 season, there was some tough smack downs but it seemed a forgone conclusion that the empowered mum ‘Beadnose’ would face the monstrous male ‘747’.

In a world where politics is utterly divisive and tribal, and our TVs vomit popularity contests that pit terrible humans against slightly more terrible humans, Fat Bear Week reminds us of something else us humans can do well... bond behind a collective cause/distraction.

In this case, a shared fascination with nature and a nice way to channel our tribal urges into something sweet.

Fat Bear Week usually occurs in late September – early October but it depends on the bears really. So keep an eye out for it next year. In the meantime, click on the video below for a dramatic action replay. Follow the link at the end for more vids.

Oh, Beadnose took out the trophy this year. Look at this before and after image taken 3 month apart. That's epic growth. Isn't she lovely?

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