All Hail Holly, Queen of Fat Bear Week

In a nail-biting finale on Tuesday, Holly clinched the title of Katmai's Fattest Bear

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NPS/L. Carter

The results are in: 435 Holly is the champion of Fat Bear Week 2019. On Tuesday, the bulky bruin beat out 775 Lefty by more than 14,000 votes on Facebook. Holly is the fifth bear to take the prestigious title, awarded annually by officials at Alaska’s Katmai National Park & Preserve as a celebration of bears’ pre-hibernation weight gain. The park’s roundest residents competed all of last week in a March Madness-style faceoff, with contenders advancing based on Facebook likes. Viewers are able to watch bears every day on the park’s live stream.

Holly, an adult brown bear, won over the hearts of supporters when she cared for an adopted cub in 2014, an unusual behavior for her species. As one of the most experienced mother bears at Brooks River, 435 Holly is no stranger to bulking up for hibernation. In 2018, she was knocked out of the competition early by 854 Divot. But Holly returned to Brooks Falls this fall ready to fight for her fat.

How’d she pull it off? Holly has spent that past few weeks fishing and eating non-stop, taking advantage of the abundant resources available at the salmon-choked Brooks Falls.

While Holly’s actual weight is unknown, Katmai’s GIS team recently posted a 3-D scan of one of her close competitors, bear 747, who was eliminated in the semi-final. The scan estimates 747’s weight at a hefty 1,408 lbs. His volume is said to be around 23.4 cubic feet.

So how will Holly celebrate the victory? No Disneyland trip for this champion—Holly plans on enjoying a celebratory meal of salmon then taking a nice, long nap.