The annual Katmai National Park & Preserve's "Fat Bear Week" has come to an end and we have a clear winner: GRAZER! This chunky lady won on Tuesday to Chunk!
Fat Bear Week is put on by explore.org and Katmai N.P. According to Katmai N.P. & Preserve, Fat Bear Week "is a global tournament-style bracket competition in which the public votes for their favorite fattest bear. The National Park Service launched Fat Bear Week in 2014 when it was simply Fat Bear Tuesday". In 2015, it launched into an entire week.
Fat Bear Week is put on by the park & preserve to increase engagement and awareness about Alaska's brown bear population. The goal is to celebrate the "Brooks River brown bears at Katmai and its healthy and remarkable ecosystem"
This year there were 12 competitors including this year's Jr. Fat Bear champion is deemed "big enough" to compete with the big bears! Some are familiar faces and others are new to the crew. Below are some of the former champions and participants in the 2023 season! The rules of the competition are that the bear has to be present at the beginning and end of summer and documented by Rangers in order to participate.
The reigning champion is 747, one of the largest brown bears on Earth, estimated to weigh 1400 lbs, unfortunately, 747 got out in the second round! He was first discovered at the preserve in 2004 and is now a seasoned bear on the river. He also won Fat Bear Week in 2020!
The most decorated Fat Bear is Otis who won the inaugural Fat Bear competition in 2014 and then again in 2016, 2017, and 2021. According to explore.org, "Otis was four to six years old when he was first identified in 2001, and he’s now one of the older male bears at Brooks River"
Holly was the fat bear champ of 2019 and unfortunately is not going to be in the running for the chunkiest bear this season. It is possible Holly may give birth to another litter of cubs in her den this year, meaning her "bulk up" is essential.
To read more about the Fat Bears and the competition for 2023, click here. WeatherNation will bring you updates on Fat Bear Week as they come!