Cultivating Mass: 2021 Fat Bear Week Endorsement

Life as a champ is rough. Rivals look to take advantage of any weakness you might show. Arm chair critics analyze your every move. Fans expect perfection. When the next championship tournament rolls into town your body has aged another year and your preferred food has worked its hardest to evade and escape you. Meanwhile, you’re trying to live your best life, because you are a bear and the concerns of humans matter not to you.

Yet, for those of us who recognize greatness and celebrate success when we see it, there is one clear choice for Fat Bear Week 2021—the mighty 747.

before and after photos of a large brown bear. Top photo was taken on July 4 2021. Bottom photo was taken on September 14 2021.

Long-time readers of this blog may be thinking, “This again?”

photo of man leaning close to a woman's ear to talk to her. Woman stairs ahead with a bored look. Text reads in all caps, "SO HAVE I TOLD YOU ABOUT 747? LIKE HE’S THE BIGGEST BEAR AND EATS SO MANY SALMON. LIKE SO MANY SALMONS. IS IT SALMON OR SALMONS? I'M FUNNY, RIGHT? ANYWAY, I BET YOU’VE NEVER THOUGHT ABOUT HOW MANY SALMONS A BEAR CAN EAT, BUT…"

…Let me tell you dear friends: 747 is as fat as ever.  He deserves your Fat Bear Week vote.

Brown bears get fat to survive. Their obesity (and it is that since a bear’s body fat percentage is routinely 20-30 percent or more when they begin hibernation) is a savings account. In the den, bears do not eat or drink. They stay warm and hydrated by burning body fat. Unlike utilizing muscle for energy—a process that produces metabolic wastes that must be recycled, sequestered, or purged from the body—burning fat is a relatively clean fuel as I write in chapter 4 of my book, The Bears of Brooks Falls.

screen capture of text that reads, "Bears survive the hibernation period because they got fat beforehand. Metabolizing body fat produces metabolic water, heat, and carbon dioxide. The carbon dioxide is absorbed into the bloodstream and exhaled normally through the lungs, while the heat and water are used for warmth and hydration. A bear also minimizes its body’s demand for water by adhering to strict water- conservation principles. Physical movements are limited, so cells don’t become thirsty like they would in a more active mammal. Their kidneys produce little urine, which is soon reabsorbed by the bladder. In this way, fat metabolism produces enough metabolic water to keep bears hydrated. Water lost to the environment is primarily through exhaling. Hibernating bears in captivity will even ignore water provided to them."

It’s akin to cultivating mass only to carefully harvest it later. Just not for vanity’s sake, bro.

747 cultivates mass at an exceptional rate. This summer, he reigned as Brooks River’s most dominant adult male. Even the river’s long-time dominant bear, 856, would not challenge him, and as a result 747 had nearly free access to any fishing spot of his desire.

A single brown bear can eat thousands of pounds of salmon per year. The largest can eat 6,000 to 10,000 pounds. Given his size, appetite, high rank in the bear hierarchy, and his keen fishing skills, 747 is more than capable of eating many thousands of pounds of salmon each summer. At Brooks Falls, he intercepts a great deal of fish by being at the right place at the right time and waiting for his food to come to him. When Brooks River’s sockeye migrated upstream, 747 was primed to harvest them.

GIF of bicycle crash. Woman who holds sign that causes crash represents 747. Peloton represents salmon.

He’s so successful that in September 2019 and again in September 2020, he was estimated to weigh more than 1,400 pounds. This places him, as I estimate, among the top one percent of brown bears based on body mass.

Even with his size, he remains agile.

Well, maybe not always that agile.

When he walks close to the webcams at Brooks River, he eclipses the sun.

And yes, that is a tapeworm hanging on for a ride.

Fat Bear Week celebrates the success of Brooks River’s bears, the ecosystem and salmon that sustain them, and the bears’ abilities to get fat and survive. 747 exemplifies success among adult male brown bears. He deserves your vote and a repeat Fat Bear Week victory.

Four panel meme from Star Wars. Text in panel 1 says, "I'm voting in Fat Bear Week." Text in panel 2 says, "You're voting for bear 747?" No text in panel three, just a stoic face. Text in panel 4 says in smaller text, "You're voting for bear 747?"
photo of man leaning close to a woman's ear to talk to her. Woman stairs ahead with a bored look. Text reads in all caps, "BEARS GET FAT TO SURVIVE. DID YOU EVER CONSIDER THAT? I MEAN NOT A LOT OF PEOPLE THINK ABOUT THAT, RIGHT? MAYBE IF YOU THINK THAT’S COOL WE COULD HANG OUT ON FATBEARWEEK.ORG AND VOTE FOR 747."

Join explore.org’s Fat Bear Week live events, fill out your bracket, vote for your bear in Fat Bear Week. See you on the campaign trail.

Title: Fat Bear Week 2021 Bracket. 12 bears, six on each side. Four first round matches and 4 bears that get a bye into the second round. Winners are chosen. 747 is predicted to win.
My 2021 Fat Bear Week bracket leads to a 747 victory. Get in his corner before it is too late.
GIF of large brown bear looking intensely in direction of camera

16 thoughts on “Cultivating Mass: 2021 Fat Bear Week Endorsement

  1. Love the Tour De Salmon run!! Good stuff, 747 could face some tough competition from Otis the media darling but I think even “Sully” could land that Jumbo bear safely to a win 🥇!!!

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  2. A bear that round doesn’t have a corner Mike!! The ear work he had completed early 2020 may have won him the 2020 title. But 480 Otis is going to be King again 2021. Otis planned his before and after pics perfectly to show his amazing gain. Apart from a really rough shed pattern 747 was massive before and is still massive after. Nothing really to inspire the voters.

    All in good fun 😉 Thank you for being a part of this amazing annual event. The word is getting out and I hope more and more people value our bears and all the links to the natural world.

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  3. Mike, I remember when 151 Walker was a youngster and would go to the far pool and jump around for fish. One day, Otis was in his office and growled at Walker for the disturbance. Walker politely sat down and began to fish Otis style. When Otis left for his Fall hiatus, Walker disappeared, too, and I believe he followed Otis. When they both returned on the same day, Walker was a different bear! He sat calmly in the far pool and fished with Otis…both very successfully! So, in my mind, Walker is Otis’ protege and deserves his place on your bracket above! Martha

    Sent from my iPad

    >

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  4. very entertaining but is it fair, given your great popularity and wide accessibility due to your job, to promote your choice on this platform? many many people vote who don’t spend any time on the bear cams. might they be swayed by your name recognizability (is that even a word?)? cheers and GO, OTIS AND HOLLY!!!

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  5. To follow up on what flowerbear posted…I’ve always said that “When. Mike Fitz speaks, people listen!” You’ve acquired a great deal of recognition over the years that’s gone far beyond the chat boards at Explore. Your vast knowledge and your passion for the bears is inspiring to say the least.
    And while we know that 747 is your favorite bear, I think we can all agree that 747 is just a big bear, bigger than any bear at Brooks Falls, and he doesn’t particularly work that hard at getting fatter. He shows up fat and leaves fat. That’s no spectacular feat really.
    Just for fun, I’d like to hear your push for Otis. Ya know, pretend 747 doesn’t exist for the moment and use your vast knowledge about Otis and tell us why he deserves to be crowned Fat Bear Champion.
    I’ll wait…

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