The people have spoken, and the results are finally out. Following days of voting to determine the fattest bear in Alaska’s Katmai National Park, officials at the park announced that 480 Otis 2021’s fattest bear. Otis became the fattest bear following two and a half months of heavy eating and deep resting.
Otis is a 25-year-old bear living in the park. In preparation for the long winter, Otis developed fishing skills that have helped him gather as many salmon as possible, helping him put on enough weight for the winter. In the recently-concluded bear weight competition, he rose to first place after garnering over 51,000 votes.
The Fat Bear Week usually runs from Sept. 29 to Oct. 5 every year. In the event, members of the public are invited to view and vote for the fattest bear. The bear that gets the most votes emerges as the winner of the competition. Those interested can vote online by simply clicking on the bear they like. To make the event even more interesting, organizers allow individuals to download a blank form and use it to predict the winner in advance.
Every bear has a biography that lets voters learn more about it and its struggle to find food. In the case of Otis, he had a challenge finding salmon since he had to compete with young bears for fishing spots.
“Otis must also compete with younger and larger bears who want access to his fishing spots,” the biography reads. “While Otis occasionally appears to be napping or not paying attention, most of the time he’s focused on the water, and he experiences a relatively high salmon catch rate as a result.”
In 2019, The New York Times noted that Otis weighed about 900 pounds. Able to gain up to 4 pounds per day, Otis’s weight can quickly increase every year as winter approaches. This year’s win is his fourth so far.
Bears have to eat heavily and put on sufficient weight to help them survive during the winter months. In far north regions, winter months usually mean that the ocean turns into ice blocks, making it difficult for bears to hunt. During this period, the bears hibernate and use fat stored under their skin to survive.
Lead image via Candice Rusch