**Update**Congratulations 806's spring cub in becoming the new 2023 Fat Bear Junior Champion! 806 Jr. moves on to the main Fat Bear Week bracket!
The chubby cubby competition is back for its third year! 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 901’s tubby twosome vs 806's titanic tank of a spring cub and 910's salmon yearing yearling vs adopted sister 909's bodacious beauty.
Cast your votes on September 28 and 29 in this single elimination tournament at 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.
901's Two Spring Cubs
DescriptionThese first-year cubs are both male. They have different colored body fur. One has dark brown fur and a prominent natal collar of light, grizzled fur around his neck. The other cub's fur is light brown like his mother's.
BiographyBorn last winter, these cubs represent 901's first known litter. 901 took a noticeable cautious approach with her family during early summer. She rarely ventured near Brooks Falls where the greatest number of bears gather. Instead, 901 kept them near the mouth of Brooks River where open space is abundant and there is less risk of dangerous close encounters with other bears.
Despite the best efforts of mother bears, chance and circumstance can lead to misfortune. The family arrived at Brooks River with three cubs in early summer 2023, but one cub disappeared in mid September. Although other bears were in the near vicinity, no person witnessed the cause of the cub's disappearance and its fate is unknown. The surviving cubs remained overnight in a spruce tree around the time of the other cub's disappearance. The siblings remind us that the lives of young bears are filled with risk no matter the caution and effort of mother bears.
806's Spring Cub
DescriptionThis male first-year cub has long, shaggy brown fur and a short, pointed muzzle.
BiographyThere are perils and advantages of fishing near Brooks Falls. Many mother bears with young cubs shy away from the vicinity of the waterfall, but 806 did not avoid this area in 2023. She knew that Brooks Falls provides bears with their very first opportunities to fish for salmon in early summer. Coming so close to other bears at the falls, however increased the risk of the cub's safety.
In his efforts to remain safe, 806's spring cub attempted to stay close to mom even if that meant entering the swift and cold river. On several occasions, he was swept downstream or over the waterfall. In a notable event in late July, his mother fell off the falls as she caught a fish which left the cub alone momentarily. A nearby adult male then pursued and attacked the cub. Thankfully, 806 was able to return and successfully defend her offspring. Mother and cub returned frequently to the falls afterward and throughout August. With salmon abundant in mid-summer, 806's cub grew rapidly. His story showcases the risk and reward that bears find at Brooks Falls.
DescriptionThis second-year female cub has evenly brown, grizzled fur.
BiographyA unique family experience has accompanied 910's yearling. She was part of an integrated family alongside her mother, her aunt, and cousin in 2022. This summer, she remained part of a blended family when her mother adopted her cousin, 909Jr. While the cubs under 910's care remained bonded throughout the summer, the also found out that hunger drives competition among bears, family members included.
Bears have learned to expect abundant salmon at Brooks River in early summer, but salmon were sparse in early July 2023. With relatively few salmon available, bears experienced greater competition among each other for food. When 910 was successful in catching salmon she would guard her food while the yearling and her cousin often engaged in a race to grab any part of the fish that they could. The yearling was at a disadvantage in these situations since she was smaller than her cousin and mother. Regardless of any competitive disadvantages, she has grown into one of the largest yearling bears at Brooks River in 2023. Family life among bears, as among people, bring friendshp, love, and conflict. Perhaps the differences are matters of degree rather than of kind.
909's 2.5 year old
DescriptionThis is a large-bodied 2.5-year-old female cub. She has even colored brown fur and wide-set ears.
BiographyIn 2022, the sisters 909 and 910 integrated their families. They traveled, fished, slept, and played together. In late spring 2023, however, 909 separated from her 2.5-year-old cub. This normally begins a journey of independence for young bears. But 909Jr. found a new path. She was adopted by her aunt, 910, who was still caring for her biological yearling cub.
Adoption is a rare event among brown bears and the circumstances that lead to it are usually mysterious or unknown. The sociability and friendship between the 909 and 910 families in 2022 may have provided 909Jr. with an uncommon advantage. She was familiar with and more than tolerated by 910 and her yearling cub. Perhaps 910's maternal instincts naturally broadened to provide 909Jr. with the same guidance and protection as her biological cub. No matter the reason for the adoption, 909Jr. benefited from another summer with a mother. She's quite large for her age and appears well positioned to succeed during her future transition to independence. She was the Fat Bear Junior 2022 champion.
Last updated: October 2, 2023