'Fat Bear Week' Is a Celebration of the Animal's Pre-Hibernation Transformation, Alaska Park Ranger Says
The National Park Service is celebrating bears' hairy curves with "Fat Bear Week," when all eyes are on the furry chonks to see which one will gain the most weight in the lead up to their hibernation.
There’s a competition heating up Alaska that celebrates fur, heaviness and curves. It's Fat Bear Week, when all eyes are on the furry chonks to see which one will gain the most weight in the lead up to their hibernation.
The brown bears at Katmai National Park and Preserve in Alaska have an appetite for salmon, specifically wild salmon caught from the Brooks River.
A little over 100 bears feast from the river. Rangers promise that no bears, or their feelings, will be hurt by the competition.
“A lot of people think that Fat Bear Week is almost like a shameful thing," Keith Moore, Interpretive Park Ranger at the Katmai National Park and Preserve, spoke to Inside Edition Digital. "Like, ‘Oh man, you're talking about the bears being fat.’ But it's actually a celebration that recognizes this transformation that the bears are going through.”
“These bears have to put on as much fat as they can before they go into hibernation for the winter, where they'll be living off of their fat reserves the whole time,” he added.
The brown bears at Katmai National Park and Preserve have an appetite for salmon, specifically wild caught from the Brooks River.
A little over 100 bears feast from this river but high-water levels this year give the salmon more room to swim, making them harder to catch.
So the serious competitors will be catching their salmon from the falls.
“The ones that can really hold their ground in their territory are usually the ones that fish the falls because it is a highly coveted spot to try to get fish. So that was one of the interesting things was, yes, there were a lot of salmon, but the river itself presented some challenges by being a little bit higher this year,” Moore said.
The 2021 Fat Bear Week champ was Otis, who has won several competitions in the past. Can he snatch another title or will he lose out to a younger bear?
“Otis is a very old bear, and so he has won a lot of competitions in the past, and I think he's one of those fan favorites because he's been there for a long time,” Moore said. “Some bears, they use the river one year, and maybe they don't use it the next year, they move on to different streams that hold salmon. So it's not every year that we get to see some bears. But 480 Otis, he's been one that we've had a pleasure of watching for most of his life.”
The winner of Fat Bear Week is decided by the public, which votes in a March Madness-style elimination tournament.
Fat Bear Week officially kicks off Oct. 5. The bears can be seen packing on the pounds via bear cam and votes can be cast at FatBearWeek.org.
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