Fat Bear Week winner: Otis wins title for 4th time

Ride the 747 Bear. In the Battle of Alaska’s Biggest Bear, there is a new heavyweight champion at Katmai National Park and Preserve. On...

Ride the 747 Bear. In the Battle of Alaska’s Biggest Bear, there is a new heavyweight champion at Katmai National Park and Preserve.

On Tuesday night, 480 Otis was declared the winner of Fat Bear Week, an online contest that celebrates bear weight gain before hibernation from late June through October, garnering hundreds of thousands of votes from bear enthusiasts.

At over 25 years old, Otis is one of the oldest bears in the park, which covers an estimated 4.1 million acres in southwest Alaska and is home to around 2,200 brown bears.

Otis is now a quadruple champion, having won the inaugural contest, in 2014, as well as in 2016 and 2017. This year, Otis had 51,230 votes in the final round to beat the Bear 151 against 44,834 votes for Walker. Nearly 800,000 votes were cast in the week-long contest, which featured 12 bears.

“Bears are fascinating animals and lead difficult lives, and I think people are happy to celebrate their success every season,” said Amber Kraft, spokesperson for the park.

The contest began in 2014 as Fat Bear Tuesday and expanded into a weeklong contest the following year to celebrate the bears’ successful weight gains after gorging on Brooks River sockeye salmon. to prepare for hibernation.

Brown bears can weigh up to four pounds a day, and when hibernation begins, larger adult males can weigh over 1,200 pounds. In 2019, Otis was estimated to be over 900 pounds.

The competition, which started on September 29 of this year, pits pairs of chubby bears against each other. Voters choose their favorites on a website hosted by explore.org, a network of nature webcams, and the bear with the most votes advances to the next round.

Park officials share stories about bears through profiles that detail their age, gender, and offspring. At the start of the season, park workers take pictures of bears when they are skinny and again at the end of the season after they have gained weight.

Brooks River bears were initially given numbers for monitoring purposes, with some later getting nicknames from park staff.

As a warm-up for this year’s competition, park staff members added a junior group, a big baby bear competition that featured four of the park’s chubby cubs.

“Fat Bear Jr. is a great way to share more about the successes and struggles of cubs,” Ms. Kraft said. She noted that cubs start their lives roughly the size of a can of soup, average around a pound at birth, and have a 50 percent survival rate.

Four of them faced off last month, and the winner was Spring teddy bear 132, a 9 month old baby with a short muzzle and shaggy brown fur. This bear then entered the adult competition.

Last year’s adult winner was Bear 747, his first championship. Past winners also include 409 Beadnose, a bear who won the Battle of the Bulge in 2018 and 2015.

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Newsrust - US Top News: Fat Bear Week winner: Otis wins title for 4th time
Fat Bear Week winner: Otis wins title for 4th time
Newsrust - US Top News
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