Voting is officially open for the Katmai National Park “Fat Bear Week” competition and this has gotta be the cutest story we’ve reported on in 2022.
Each year, the Alaskan national park runs this knock-out style competition where fans vote for their favourite four-legged fluffy friends.
In the end, only one bear can take home the trophy and the glory that comes with it.
happy fat bear week to all who celebrate ❤️ pic.twitter.com/ksz7zpWnsv
— italian cowboy (@sahyobear) September 26, 2022
Mike Fitz, a naturalist (a scientist who studies the natural world) told the ABC the competition started out as Fat Bear Tuesday in 2014 but became so popular he expanded it to an entire week.
“It’s really a celebration of the ecosystem that supports the bears,” he said.
“The richness of it, the abundance of it. The return of millions of salmon every year.
“And an opportunity to learn more about the lives of the brown bears that make this place home.”
Reigning champion Otis returned to defend his chonky crown, but was bested on October 9 by Bear 901 — a young female. Long live the king.
Otis sighted on bear cam taking a slow, leisurely concession stroll. Time to pass the torch. Long live the king 💚 pic.twitter.com/bGhR8NOSwt
— explore.org (@exploreorg) October 9, 2022
25-year-old Otis is described on the competition’s official website as a “medium-large adult male with a blocky muzzle and a floppy right ear.
“He has light brown fur in early summer.
“By autumn, his coat becomes grizzled brown and he sports a patch of blonder fur on his left shoulder.”
Have you ever heard a bear described in such detail? The wildlife rangers writing these must really love their jobs.
I felt like I was listening to a wine sommelier discuss a 2011 Pinot Noir.
When Otis won last year, he copped over 800,000 votes as per The Guardian.
— explore.org (@exploreorg) October 6, 2022
— explore.org (@exploreorg) October 8, 2022
So now for the question on everyone’s lips: Just how chonky do these bears get in preparation for a winter hibernation?
The answer? They grow from a starting weight of 270-400kg to well past 450kg. That’s a lotta salmon!
If you’re keen to vote for your fav bear this Fat Bear Week, you can suss the exact times here.
Oh, and did we mention there’s a live stream? You’re welcome.