This is one time of the year we get to celebrate getting fat. Every October, Katmai National Park and Explore.org celebrate another successful salmon run and their healthy brown bears with Fat Bear Week. Katmai National Park is home to more than 2,000 brown bears, many of whom spend their summer bulking up at Brooks Falls and the Brooks River, where thousands of salmon migrate upstream to spawn.
The bears compete with each other for the best fishing spots and often eat more than 30 salmon and more than 40,000 calories (sometimes up to 100,000 calories) per day! They must add huge amounts of fat so they can survive a 6- to 8-month hibernation, during which the sows birth and nurse their cubs. The big boars become huge and compete for sows and the good fishing spots.
Fat Bear Week celebrates their success with a 12-bear single elimination bracket. Fans, many of whom have followed the bears on the amazing live webcams on Explore.org, vote for their favorite fat bears. This year was a very exciting contest with fan favorites 480 Otis and 435 Holly competing with big boys 747 (also known as Colbert, as well as “Bear Force One”) and bear 856. The final on Fat Bear Tuesday set 747 against up-and-coming sow 901, who gained a spectacular amount of weight this season, likely prepping for birthing cubs this winter.
It came down to pure bulk
Voters crowned 747, who likely tops 1,400 pounds, the 2022 Fat Bear Champion on October 11. Congratulations, you big tub of lard!
Fat Bear Week is a marvelous celebration of nature and the great work our National Parks are doing. Thanks also to Explore.org for building a community of bear fans who anxiously await July when the bears return and can be seen on camera every day. You can still catch them on live cams on explore.org. I highly recommend this wonderful site. There are other cameras too—some watching orcas, others eagles, and even polar bears!
Watch the video below of the winner, 747. (OMG! He’s huge, like a Boeing 747! —Diane)
I love that the winning bear is named after one of my favorites, Stephen Colbert, due to a deformed ear.
Maybe they are just putting on a show for all the tourists in hopes of another handout. Maybe we need to do a study. Just glad to see they are fine and doing bear stuff.