Oct 5, 2022
It’s “fat” time of year again, when animal lovers vote for their favorite bulky bear. That’s right: it’s Fat Bear Week.
Fat Bear Week starts today and runs through the 11th (Fat Bear Tuesday). The competition features the brown bears of Alaska’s Katmai National Park and Preserve. Every year, the bears head to the Brooks River. There, they eat a lot of salmon to gain the weight needed to hibernate. The bears fill out so quickly that watching them eat has become a spectator sport. Some of the bears gain over 400 pounds in just a few months! The week ends in a tournament. Fans get to pick the ultimate winner.
“There’s no real set criteria that you’re supposed to vote on,” a naturalist who started the competition in 2014 told The Washington Post. “You could vote on just simply the largest bear, or look at relative fatness or consider the … circumstances of each bear’s life like the challenges of raising offspring.”
Nobody actually weighs the bears. Instead, voters watch webcams. They also look at before/after pictures of the bears. Last year’s winner, Otis, weighed about 1,000 pounds by the end of the contest. Explore.org’s official Fat Bear Week website calls him “an especially skilled angler.” It notes, “He once ate 42 salmon in a sitting.” Otis is back for 2022. He's facing thick competition from the likes of 747 (both his identification number and a reference to the jumbo jet), Chunk (a crafty bear known to swipe other bears’ leftovers), and Grazer. Explore.org describes her as “a particularly defensive mother bear.”
May the heftiest hibernator win.
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