Though Fat Bear Week—the biggest week for fans of ursine weight gain competitions across the globe—is still a couple of months away, anyone looking to gamble their mortgage on this year’s match-up will want to pay attention to a shocking early development that may greatly influence things to come. That’s right: Bear 747 is fighting with the people’s champ, bear 856.
This news comes to us via Mashable, which has reported the struggle for bear dominance that’s left Vegas reeling and surprised regular fans of both the long-reigning 856 and (the appropriately airplane-sized) 747. As everyone knows, 856 has ruled his territory for a long time, “[intimidating] other bears from the best fishing spots and [earning] many mating opportunities.”
A clip from Explore.org’s Brooks Falls, Alaska livestream shows 747 and 856 in Katami National Park’s best fishing spot, fighting to change this dynamic. 747, who announced his intention to become Brooks’ Best Bear by winning the 2020 Fat Bear Week, recently challenged 856 for prime salmon access. The video sees him approaching 856, loping through the water with visible confidence. They roar at each other, 747 edging closer and closer, until some mysterious bear logic determines that 856 must give up and retreat. The camera zooms in to show the loser’s sad, defeated face.
Both bears are roughly 20 years old, which Mashable points out “is older for a brown bear,” and they are long-ago pals, who former ranger and Explore.org naturalist Mike Fitz says have “encountered each other year after year.” While 856 has typically been the dominant half of the pair, Fitz says he may not be “feeling as strong or as well as he did in recent years” these days.
“Maybe he suffers from an injury or illness that we can’t see,” Fitz says. “Maybe the rigors of his aggressive dominance over the past decade have caught up with him.”
While 747 now enjoys so much access to salmon that he’s a clear favorite for taking the title yet again in this year’s Fat Bear Week, it’s still possible that 856 will make a comeback over the summer. The article explains he did just that in 2017, which should be more than good enough to encourage lots of speculative betting over the months to come. For our part, we believe in 856. We know he can learn from this temporary setback and return stronger, better, meaner, and, most importantly, fatter than ever before.
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