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Alaska Fat Bear Contest Declares Winner


Katmai National Park and Preserve announced this week that a wild grizzly bear named Holly was its champion of Fat Bear Week 2019. (NPS Photo/A. Ramos)
Alaska Fat Bear Contest Declares Winner
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Many Americans are talking about a really big animal from the northern state of Alaska.

Katmai National Park and Preserve announced this week that a wild grizzly bear named Holly was its champion of Fat Bear Week 2019.

Fat Bear Week for Alaska’s grizzlies has become a national internet sensation. People vote for individual bears in an online voting competition.

Katmai, in southwestern Alaska, is famous for its brown bears. The animals grow to massive sizes by eating large amounts of salmon. The fish are native to the area’s waterways.

The Reuters news agency reports that Holly, who did not have cubs this year, had a big finish to the season.

“She’s just a great bear. When she doesn’t have cubs, she looks like the Michelin Man,” said Naomi Boak, who organized the Fat Bear Week event this year. Boak works as a media ranger for Katmai Conservancy, a nonprofit group.

Fat Bear Week combines humor with science education. It tells about the Katmai bears as they prepare for hibernation. Bears usually lose about a third of their body weight during their winter sleep. The body fat they develop in summer and autumn is important for their survival.

Thanks to Katmai’s plentiful supply of food, the park’s male bears can grow to more than 450 kilograms before they go to their hibernation dens.

Females grow to about two-thirds that weight.

Holly in late September of 2015 compared to mid August 2016. (Photos courtesy of T. Carmack)
Holly in late September of 2015 compared to mid August 2016. (Photos courtesy of T. Carmack)


Even before the latest Fat Bear Week, Holly was well-known to people who follow, and love, Alaska wildlife. Millions of people have watched her in videos captured by the “bear cam” at Brooks Falls.

In 2014, the United States National Park Service published a story about Holly. It told how she took care of a cub that had been abandoned by its mother. Such an adoption is “very, very unusual” among brown bears, Boak said.

Holly’s adoption of the year-old cub led bear-cam followers to call her “Supermom.”

I’m John Russell.

Yereth Rosen reported on this story for the Reuters news agency. John Russell adapted this report for VOA Learning English. George Grow was the editor.

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Words in This Story

sensation – n. a lot of excitement and interest

ranger – n. the keeper of a forest or wilderness area

hibernation – n. to spend the winter sleeping or resting

den – n. the home of some kinds of wild animals

abandon – v. to give up control of someone or something else

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