Fat Bear Junior 2022

Bracket showing 909 cub as Fat Bear Junior champ after having competed against 910's cub and 94's three spring cubs

The chubby cubby competition is back for the second year in a row! We’re offering four chunky choices the chance to be crowned Fat Bear Junior and advance to the main Fat Bear Week bracket. In this lineup, we have 910’s super-sized spring cub vs 909’s salmon yearning yearling and 128’s two bodacious beauties vs 94’s tubby trio.

Cast your votes on September 28 and 29 in this single elimination tournament a www.fatbearweek.org. Voting closes at 5pm AKDT. The winner then advances to the main Fat Bear Week bracket to compete against the more senior titan bears of Brooks River.

***And we have our Fat Bear Junior 2022 winner! NINE-OH-NINE, chubby and fine! Ultimately, the other competitors’ fat flubbed and flopped against 909’s butterball booty. This maturing moppet made massive moves to capture the crown in this play-in, prelim for the main Fat Bear Week bracket. Congrats to 909’s yearling!***

 

94’s Three Spring Cubs

Four cubs sitting in grass Four cubs sitting in grass

Left image
July 13, 2022
Credit: Photo courtesy of K. Moore

Right image
September 13, 2022
Credit: Photo courtesy of K. Moore

Description

These three spring cubs vary in both color and size. Two are dark and similar in size while one is lighter and larger than the other two. All three have distinct natal collars.

Biography

When 94 first arrived at Brooks, she had four spring cubs in tow. While two to three cubs is a more common litter size at Katmai, four is fairly unusual. Spring cubs face the highest mortality rate of any age bracket for bears. In mid-September one of the four was killed by an unidentified bear, for reasons unknown. This demonstrates just one of the many challenges that cubs face in their first year of life. Raising a litter of four cubs is not an easy task. In fact, no Brooks bear has successfully weaned a litter of four since bear monitoring began. Not only do cubs face competition from other bears, but also within the litter for mom’s resources. As these cubs continue to grow, they will become less reliant on mom and more self-sufficient. Their story is one of resiliency, competition, and survival. 

 

128’s Two 2.5 Year-Old Cubs

Two cubs stand on top of a waterfall Two cubs stand on top of a waterfall

Left image
June 20, 2022
Credit: Photo courtesy of M. Walker

Right image
September 17, 2022
Credit: Photo courtesy of L. Law

Description

These two cubs, both females, were born in 2020. They both possess the same distinctive blonde coat and fuzzy, round ears as their mother, 128 Grazer.

Biography

While most cubs stay with mom for two summers, these two have the benefit of an extra year to perfect their fishing skills and acquire social skills to interact with other bears on the river. These two demonstrate their independence, as both are capable of fishing for themselves. Emboldened by their mom’s defensiveness and her presence, 128’s cubs are more assertive with other bears. In early fall they were seen, backing up 128 during a confrontation with an unidentified bear. Their extra lessons with mom have given them a distinct survival advantage.

 

909’s Yearling

A skinny bear cub walking in marsh water A skinny bear cub walking in marsh water

Left image
June 22, 2022
Credit: Photo courtesy of L. Law

Right image
September 18, 2022
Credit: Photo courtesy of L. Law

Description

909’s cub was first seen at the river in 2021 as a female spring cub (first year cub). Now a yearling, she has a medium-brown coat with round fluffy ears. 

Biography

At the beginning of the season, 909's cub was often found at the falls with her mom. She bobs her head as she fishes, a trait she shares with 909. 909’s cub has already been seen catching a fish on her own in the river, including on the lip of the falls. This is a great accomplishment for a bear her age and a sign that she has quickly learned fishing techniques from her mother. This year she had an injury to one of her paws, but recovered quickly, demonstrating the resiliency of bears. As the season progressed, she has displayed increased independence as well as socialness with other bears, including playing with her cousin, 910’s cub. 909’s yearling has proven her independence and maturity this season, and has the potential to become a successful subadult next year.

 

910’s Spring Cub

bear cub in a tree bear cub in a tree

Left image
July 13, 2022
Credit: Photo courtesy of L. Law

Right image
September 6, 2022
Credit: Photo courtesy of E. Johnston

Description

910’s cub is a female spring cub, also called a COY (cub of the year). She has a medium-brown coat with rounded ears.

Biography

Life as a spring cub is full of challenges and teachable moments. 910’s cub could be found at the falls, a place usually frequented by the most dominant bears. However, this decision paid off as she was able to reap the rewards of her mother’s fishing success, but not without some risk. On multiple occasions, the spring cub was swept downstream in the swift water. After swimming to shore, she treed herself; a survival strategy that cubs learn at a young age. Despite the hardships that cubs face, they are also social creatures, playing with their siblings, or in the case of 910’s cub, with her yearling cousin. This spring cub’s story reveals the dependency and vulnerability that young bears face. 

Last updated: October 2, 2022

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