Viral "Fat Bear" Transformation Has a Dramatic Scientific Reason Behind It
“A fat bear is a sign of a successful bear,” says Andrew LaValle, a park ranger at Katmai National Park in Alaska.
Clearly, Bear 409, aka Beadnose, is the picture of success.
In a now-viral tweet posted by Katmai National Park in King Salmon, Alaska, Beadnose’s 93-day transformation from June 29 to September 30 has the internet in awe at the size of it. Truly, the bear is an absolute unit.
In just a few hours after it was posted around 1 P.M. Eastern on Friday, the tweet showing this bear transformation — from a bony creature, looking spry in gushing river, to a satisfied-looking full bear on the banks of a stream — had received more than 3,500 retweets, more than 14,000 likes, and more than 400 comments.
Nearly all of the comments are in support of this bear’s natural decision to prepare for winter in the only way it knows how: By adding up to four pounds of weight a day.
“We are all bear 409.” commented Twitter user @SanhoTree.
“THICC! But seriously — this means she will get through her hibernation and possible pregnancy JUST fine!” observed user @EdieS.
Beadnose was single from 2009 to 2011, and “This may be a major reason why #409 has grown into one of the fattest females to be seen in the fall,” speculates her Bearcams wikia page.
Beadnose is a worthy competitor in the National Park Service’s “Fat Bear Week,” which this year runs from October 3-9, and was founded in 2015 by Roy Wood, Chief of Interpretation at Shenandoah National Park, and Mike Fitz, former ranger at Katmai National Park. (The precursor to the competition was Fat Bear Tuesday in 2014.) Pitted against each other in a tournament bracket, Katmai’s bears weigh-off to see whose chub reigns supreme. Fans can watch the beloved bears on Katmai’s livestream and then vote on Facebook for which bear they believe is the fattest.
The training season leading up to Fat Bear Week lasts for a few months. It’s hard work to build up that bod!
“They start coming out around April or so. But when the salmon run starts at the end of June into July, that’s when they really go crazy,” ranger Sara Wolman tells Inverse. Around that time frame into October November, they really pack on the weight.”
Above the gluttonous glory that comes with winning the competition, the natural instinct of survival lies at the core of Fat Bear Week, which is meant to bring awareness to the incredible behavior of bears.
“It’s life or death for those guys out there,” says LaValle. The time period they constantly eat, called hyperphasia, prepares them for the impending six months of hibernation.
It’s a mind-boggling transformation to witness. “Sometimes you don’t recognize them from the beginning to the end [of the season],” says Wolman. “It’s neat because Katmai is so remote and so hard to get to, so we’re really reaching a broad variety of people.”