This year’s Fat Bear Week has come to an end. The popular sensation celebrates the brown bears of Katmai National Park and Preserve as they pack on the pounds in preparation for winter hibernation. People around the world can vote for their favorite chunky critter while watching bears nip salmon from waterfalls on livestreams. This year, observers got an adorable surprise—two adult bear sisters came together to travel with their cubs, a rare move for the typically solitary species.
Bears 909 and 910 are both daughters of the 2018 Fat Bear Week winner, 409. They are now adults and mothers themselves. 909’s cub is a yearling. This means it is his second salmon-fishing season. 910’s cub is younger, born only this spring. The sisters and cub cousins were spotted fishing together at Katmai’s Brooks River area, a short stretch of river between two lakes. The moms caught salmon in a waterfall while the cubs watched.
Typically, mother bears travel independently with their cubs. However, the pair of sisters have decided to stick together and have been spotted both roaming and resting in their little family. “They hung out together. Relaxed together. Played together. It’s pretty incredible,” Naomi Boak, former media ranger at Katmai National Park and Preserve, told Mashable. “To me it was the story of the year.” It’s unclear why they’ve banded together. Perhaps they feel safer or enjoy the other’s company.
“I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that they’re friends with one another,” said Mike Fitz, a former Katmai park ranger now at Explore.org. “This is an example of how bears can be quite social animals when the circumstances are correct.” The sweet little family is still together, and you can vote for the momma bears to be crowned queens of the 2023 Fat Bear Week.