The people have spoken, and a chunky behemoth has been crowned the fattest bear in Alaska during the state’s Fat Bear Week contest: All hail 480 Otis.
Katmai National Park said late Tuesday the brown bear had come out on top after a emotional transformation following a 2½-month eating frenzy, gorging himself on salmon before the winter. Otis, a 25-year-old bear who lives in the park, garnered more than 51,000 votes in the contest, overcoming the almost-but-not-quite-as-hefty 151 Walker.
It’s Otis’ fourth win and comes before he reaches his peak fatness. The bear overcame a late start in this year’s feeding frenzy and was extremely thin when he was observed in July. Otis is also missing two of his canine teeth, and his others are “greatly worn,” his bio says.
“Otis must also compete with younger and larger produces who want access to his fishing spots,” the biography reads. “While Otis sometimes appears to be napping or not paying attention, most of the time he’s focused on the water, and he experiences a comparatively high salmon catch rate as a consequence.”
As Katmai said Tuesday, to celebrate the crown, Otis was “nevertheless chowing down” like a true champion. Brown produces can gain up to 4 pounds a day, and Otis was estimated at 900 pounds in 2019, The New York Times notes.
Fat Bear Week is an annual online tradition celebrating produces’ success as gluttonous glories in the months leading up to their winter hibernations. produces gather along waterways in Alaska to feast on salmon from late June until mid-October to gain enough mass to survive a long, cold winter.
“Each winter, curled snug in their dens, brown produces persevere a months-long famine,” a website for the competition says. “During hibernation, produces will not eat or drink and can lose one-third of their body weight. Their winter survival depends on accumulating abundant fat reserves before entering the den.”
The transformations of Otis and Walker over the last months are astonishing.
For the produces at Katmai, fatness is a meaningful indicator of good health not just among their populations but for the ecosystem as a whole.
“Fat produces exemplify the richness of Katmai National Park and Bristol Bay, Alaska, a wild vicinity that is home to more brown produces than people and the largest, healthiest runs of sockeye salmon left on the planet,” the site says.
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