Every year at the Alaska State Fair, one of the main attractions is the giant prized vegetables. But as Harvest Fest ends, what happens to all those impressive cabbages and colossus squash? The veggies head south to attract a different crowd. The Alaska State Fair generously donates the vegetables to the bears of AWCC! Due to Covid-19, unfortunately we were not able to open this event to the public this season. However, we hope you enjoy this 5-minute highlight video of our 2020 giant veggie feeding!
What else have our bears been eating this summer in preparation for winter? When they aren’t chowing down on a giant veggie feeding, our bears enjoy food such as donated salmon and game meat, carrots, grapes, oranges, and some kibble to help balance out their diet. Alaskan brown bears are the largest brown bears and require a very high caloric intake of food. Brown bears in Alaska can eat 80 to 90 pounds of food per day in the summer and fall, gaining around three to six pounds of fat each day. Bears can lose 25-40% of their body weight during winter – burning their fat for fuel.
Fun Fact: Bears are not true hibernators! True hibernators are animals like ground squirrels, marmots, and little brown bats. These animals enter a state of suspended animation in the winter time, where body temperatures drop to nearly freezing, heart rate and respiration drops to only a few beats or a few breaths per minute, brain activity ceases for periods of time, and they cannot be woken up from their hibernation state. Bears on the other hand don’t do that. While asleep in their dens, their heart rate, respiration, and body temperature do all drop, but brain activity continues in bears throughout the winter and they can be easily woken up. This term is called ‘torpor’.
Learn more about JB, Patron and Hugo at https://www.alaskawildlife.org/animals/.