KING SALMON, Alaska (WATE) — A competition is giving bear fans nationwide a chance to celebrate their favorite Alaskan (fat) bear’s bulking up for winter hibernation at Katmai National Park & Preserve.
In the competitions, fat bear fans can see the progress of each bear from July to September, detailing just how big they got while preparing for hibernation. Although some entries might not seem as big in their September photos, the pounds they’ve packed on are remarkable.
Fat Bear Junior kicked off the competition last week, with four entries vying for the top spot. For the Junior entries, identified by their mother’s identification number, two were individual cubs, entry 909’s yearling, and entry 910’s spring cub. The other two entries were made up of multiple cub litters: 128’s three-year-old-twin cubs and 94’s spring triplet cubs.
In the showdown between 909’s yearling and 910’s spring cub, 909’s yearling took the competition by a wide lead on Wednesday and won the competition as one might have expected early on. When it came to the sibling groups, 128’s cubs did their best, but they simply were not in as much of a growth spurt as 94’s triplets. In the end, 909’s yearling took on 94’s triplets and won by a significant lead. The cuteness factor that may have helped them before simply couldn’t compare to the yearling’s bulk. The total votes, in the end, were 14,957-5,929.
This year’s Fat Bear Week competition is kicking off on Wednesday, Oct. 5. The bracket for Fat Bear Week will be announced on Oct. 3 at 7 p.m. Eastern Time.
This year, fans may expect some old faces may return to the competition, including Otis, who won in 2014, 2016, 2017 and 2021, but some other competitors have been showing out this year. Another prior competitor, 747 (affectionately referred to as Jumbo Jet and King of Chonk by some fans) was one of the largest bears listed in last year’s competition. In 2020, he was estimated to weigh over 1,400 when he won, and he appeared to be at least that large for last year’s competition, according to Explore.
While many flocked to Brooks Falls, which may be well known from pictures and videos captured of the Sockeye Salmon jumping the 6-foot-tall falls, some others opted to rest in calmer spots as they waited for the salmon to pass by.
As we wait for the contestants to be named, Fat Bear fans can catch up on the chunky competition by watching highlights from Explore’s brown bear live cams.
According to the Explore website that houses the Fat Bear Week competition, several factors should be taken into account when voting for the biggest bear, explaining that Fat Bear Week is a subjective competition. Especially younger bears, their experience growth spurts and can grow proportionately more than adult bears, while other adult bears, such as mothers or much older bears, may face obstacles that make the weight they gain more noteworthy.
Regardless of how you chose your favorite fat bear, explore.org suggests campaigning for your favorite candidate using #FatBearWeek on social media and by downloading a blank bracket to predict the winner. Voting is held online and the only requirement for voters is an email address.