Female bear with the 'most fabulous flab' wins fattest bear competition in Alaska

PHOTO: A shaggy, brown and possibly pregnant mother bear known as 409 Beadnose, seen on the bank of Brooks River in Katmai National Park and Preserve, Alaska, was crowned Fattest Bear of 2018 on Oct. 9, 2018. PlayCourtesy NPS/Handout via REUTERS
WATCH News headlines today: Oct. 10, 2018

What some call "victor" others call "empress of lard."

The competition to crown the fattest bear in an Alaskan national park won legions of fans online but the real winner was the female brown bear named 409 Beadnose.

She weighed in as the winner of this year's online competition, where Facebook followers cast their votes in a March-Madness-style tournament that pitted bear against bear to see which gained the most weight over the course of the summer in preparation for months of hibernation.

Fans online came up with multiple nicknames for 409 Beadnose, including "adorable chunk," "huge blimp" and of course, "empress of lard."

One admirer said that a before-and-after picture of the bear "perfectly captures her Rubenesque physique and her beautiful face. You go girl!"

Like so many fierce competitions, there has been debate over the fairness of the results, both online and in the newsroom.

PHOTO: 409 Beadnose was crowned Fattest Bear on Oct. 9, 2018. Katmai National Park & Preserve via Facebook
409 Beadnose was crowned Fattest Bear on Oct. 9, 2018.

There are unverified reports in other outlets that 409 Beadnose may be pregnant, raising questions by some reporters about whether or not it was fair to have a bear that is "eating for two" in competition with others who are simply looking out for themselves.

According to the official e-book released by the Katmai National Park and Preserve, she has had four known litters of cubs since being first identified in the park in 1999.

"When she is not raising cubs, this bear is usually one of the fattest females in the fall. Raising offspring is very energetically taxing for bears. Females with offspring must sacrifice body fat to raise cubs. #409, in recent years, has been able to devote more energy to her own survival as her overall size indicates," the e-book states.

PHOTO: Fat Bear Week Katmai National Park & Preserve via Facebook
Fat Bear Week

The most recent known litter referenced in the 2018 e-book was in 2016, and she was spotted with the two cubs, "then yearlings," in 2017.

According to the park's Facebook page, she "emancipated two cubs early in the summer," meaning that she could focus on finding food for herself.

And based on the before-and-after photos of her through the summer and the corresponding response in the competition, she found quite a few salmon that hit the spot.

As for Beadnose's other attributes, she reportedly is used to humans, though any newfound fans should understandably steer clear of bears when they are looking for their last few bites of salmon before hibernation.

"Our chubby champ has a few more weeks to chow down on lingering salmon carcasses before she heads up the mountains to dig herself a den and savor her victory," the park wrote on a Facebook post announcing her victory, adding that voters felt she had "this year’s most fabulous flab."

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