Meet Otis, the 2021 champion and four times winner of “Fat Bear Week” at Alaska’s Katmai National Park.

Meet Otis, the 2021 champion and four times winner of “Fat Bear Week” at Alaska’s Katmai National Park.

Meet Otis, the 2021 champion and four times winner of “Fat Bear Week” at Alaska’s Katmai National Park.

Katmai National Park and Preserve in Alaska is one of the most wild and undeveloped national parks. It is a place where a natural environment can grow and stay untouched. Because of this, the lakes and rivers are full of salmon, which brings in very fat bears.

Park rangers at Katmai National Park and Preserve say that “fat bears show the richness of Katmai National Park and Bristol Bay, Alaska, a wild area with more brown bears than people and the largest, healthiest runs of sockeye salmon left on the planet.”

Around the first week of October each year, the Park Service and wildlife livestreamers at host an online event called Fat Bear Week. This shows how healthy the brown bears in the area are after months of eating 4,500-calorie sockeye salmon. Fat bears are healthy, happy bears with enough fat to get through the long, hard hibernation in Alaska.

Rangers in Katmai say that brown bears go hungry for a long time every winter while they are in their dens. “When bears hibernate, they cease eating and drinking and lose one-third of their body weight. Before going into the den, they must have had enough fat to last the winter. Brown bears on Katmai are fattest in late summer and early fall, after they have spent the summer trying to eat enough to satisfy their huge hunger.”

During Fat Bear Week, anyone can go online and vote for the fattest bear (voting is done on the website and begins on Oct. 5, 2022 at 12 p.m. ET). It’s a single-elimination competition that lasts one week and is set up like a playoff. Below is the 2022 bracket.

Many well-known bears are taking part in the tournament, which makes it more exciting. In Katmai, they fish in certain spots along the 1.5-mile Brooks River during the summer (like below a waterfall). Because so many bears come back every year to eat, biologists and people who watch bear cams know a lot about the animals’ lives and personalities. 

The 2019 winner, Bear 435 “Holly,” is known for being a caring mother. In 2014, Holly “adopted,” at least from a human point of view, a sad little bear cub that was going to die. Bear 480, also known as “Otis,” is a well-known bear. Even though he is old and doesn’t have any teeth, he is a great fisherman in his favourite place, “Otis’ Office,” which is under the Brooks River waterfall.

People think that Holly and Otis will win the 2020 tournament. But the big bear 747, which weighs well over a thousand pounds at the end of summer, gives them a lot of competition.

Each Fat Bear Week ends with a winner, but all of these beasts win. Even though Katmai, a protected area full of fish, sometimes looks like a paradise for animals, the bear’s life there is definitely hard. Bears have to work hard all summer to gain hundreds of pounds so they can get through the long winter when there isn’t much food and other bears can be dangerous.

For male bears, getting bigger gives them more power and lets them get to the best fishing spots. To feed herself and her young, the female has to catch fish. Smaller “teenage” bears, on the other hand, are left on their own in a world where older, bigger, and much more experienced bears rule.

Katmai rangers said, “Each bear has to go through its own struggles to gain the weight it needs to stay alive.”


Sophia Amelia is the New York Times Bestselling Author. Writing stories to inspire young minds. Celebrating the power of words & imagination through my books. Join me on my journey to creating stories that will capture your imagination and captivate your heart.

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