Celebrate the Winner of Fat Bear Week, a Chubby Champ Who Packed on the Pounds

Every year, a bevy of bears unknowingly compete in Fat Bear Week, a competition that pits them pound-for-pound to see who can win the hearts and minds of the internet. And, as the name suggests, also gain a substantial amount of weight in a short time. A bear named 480 Otis was crowned the winner of the 2021 tournament after earning a lot of support from people online. He beat out 151 Walker as the bulkiest brown bear at the Katmai National Park and Preserve in southern Alaska.

Fat Bear Week is hosted by Katmai National Park and Preserve as well Explore.org and the Katmai Conservancy. The groups use the viral bracket tournament as a means of highlighting both the park’s beauty as well as the bears who live there.

The bear’s internal clock has naturally lent itself to the creation of Fat Bear Week. Because they hibernate in the winter, they have to gain a lot of weight during the summer. They do this by gorging themselves on salmon in the Brooks River in order to prepare for months of starvation. Brown bears can pack on upwards of four pounds of weight a day.

Otis had an underdog story that’s hard not to root for. He’s believed to be around 25 years old, making him one of the older bears in the park. Otis came out of hibernation later than others, and he looked very thin. There were also health issues. “In particular, he is missing two canine teeth and many of his other teeth are greatly worn,” Explore.org noted. “Otis must also compete with younger and larger bears who want access to his fishing spots. Otis is more likely to be displaced by these bears than he is to displace them.”

When the 2021 competition was complete, Otis earned 51,230 votes in the final round, beating 151 Walker’s 44,834 votes. This makes Otis a four-time champion; he won the inaugural competition in 2014 as well as in 2016 and 2017.

Although he’s the winner, Otis is not stopping his quest to pack on the pounds. “As we celebrate,” Katmai National Park tweeted, “like a true champ 480 is still chowing down.”

A beloved brown bear named 480 Otis won the 2021 Fat Bear Week tournament.

He beat out 11 other bears with his final face-off against a formidable opponent named 151 Walker.

Watch the enjoy some salmon in a live stream of Brooks Falls:

Katmai National Park and Preserve: Website | Instagram | Facebook
h/t: [NPR]

Related Articles:

Hunter Finds Lost GoPro Camera Full of Footage Shot by a Curious Bear

Photographer Reveals the Secrets of Photographing Brown Bears in Alaska [Interview]

Bear Wakes Up After 4-Month Hibernation and People Today Can Totally Relate

Sara Barnes

Sara Barnes is a Staff Editor at My Modern Met, Manager of My Modern Met Store, and co-host of the My Modern Met Top Artist Podcast. As an illustrator and writer living in Seattle, she chronicles illustration, embroidery, and beyond through her blog Brown Paper Bag and Instagram @brwnpaperbag. She wrote a book about embroidery artist Sarah K. Benning titled 'Embroidered Life' that was published by Chronicle Books in 2019. Sara is a graduate of the Maryland Institute College of Art. She earned her BFA in Illustration in 2008 and MFA in Illustration Practice in 2013.
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