Fat Bear Week: Otis Crowned Chunkiest Boy for the 4th Time



Fat bear contest

The Fat Bear Week contest is the annual celebration of Katmai National Park and Preserve’s bears as they fatten up before hibernation. Otis, also known as Bear 480, was declared the winner on Fat Bear Tuesday, defeating 151 Walker by over 6,000 votes. Otis's weight is not known, but voters were impressed by his transformation over the last few months. This year, nearly 800,000 votes were cast, breaking 2020’s record of around 650,000 votes. 

The story behind the chunky winner

Walker was a formidable candidate as the park officials had estimated his weight to be more than 1,000lbs/453 kg, but Otis beat out the beefy runner-up to take the crown. Otis may not be the largest brown bear in the park, but his impressive backstory and hunting skills helped him win over an adoring public. 

As one of the oldest bears in the park, he has lost two canine teeth already and his other teeth are extremely worn. However, he is a terrific salmon catcher. "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 as a result," park officials said. 

In Alaska's Bristol Bay, where part of the Katmai Park is located, brown bears outnumber human residents. Bears must fatten up before they hibernate for the winter, therefore, the bigger they get, the more likely they are to survive the winter months.  

“The people have spoken! The portly patriarch of paunch persevered to pulverize the Baron of Beardonkadonk,” tweeted the park after the votes were counted. “As we celebrate like a true champ 480 is still chowing down.” 

In addition to his win, 480 Otis is one of the most popular bears at Katmai, having his own Facebook page. He also has a fundraising project named after him — the Otis Fund, which has raised more than US$230,000 for Katmai research, education and bear-protection projects.