It’s one of the country’s most-watched sporting events of the summer. Every day, viewers from all over watch for updates, cheering on their favorites, and now that October is finally coming to an end, fans finally have the chance to declare a champion.
No. We’re not talking about baseball. We’re talking about Fat Bear Week at Katmai National Park and Preserve in Alaska.
This year’s winner is a big mama. described as “thicker than a bowl of oatmeal,’ who is willing to defend her cubs against bigger foes through guile and grit (not unlike the Arizona Diamondbacks).
— explore.org (@exploreorg) October 9, 2023
Meet Grazer: one of an estimated 2,200 brown bears that call Katmai home.
Grazer, also known as Bear 128 to the fans of Fat Bear Week at Alaska’s Katmai National Park and Preserve, won this year’s contest, handily defeating Chunk 108,321 to 23,134 in the finals.
The annual contest, which this year drew more than 1.3 million votes from dedicated fans watching the bears live at explore.org, is way to celebrate the resiliency of the brown bears that live on the preserve on the Alaska Peninsula, which extends from the state’s southwest corner toward the Aleutian Islands.
Viewers of Alaska’s most-watched popularity contest are glued to computer screens all summer long to see which bears are stocking up the most on salmon. They then vote in tournament style brackets over the course of a week, advancing bears to the next round until a champion is crowned. Grazer took the title, writes The Associated Press.
The National Parks Service says that Fat Bear Week “is a celebration of success and survival. It is a way to celebrate the resilience, adaptability and strength of Katmai’s brown bears. Bears are matched against each other in a tournament style competition and online visitors can vote on which bear is ultimately crowned the Fat Bear Week 2023 Champion. Over the course of the week, virtual visitors learn more about the lives and histories of individual bears while also gaining a greater understanding of Katmai’s ecosystem through a series of live events hosted on explore.org.”
The competition typically runs for several weeks, allowing the public to vote for their favorite portly bear through social media. The bear that accumulates the most votes is crowned “Fat Bear of the Week” and moves on to the next round of the contest.
As the weeks progress, the bears’ transformations are astonishing, with some doubling or even tripling their body weight to survive the harsh winter months. The competition has gained significant attention and support, not only for its entertainment value but also for its educational aspect, shedding light on the challenges and adaptations of wildlife in a pristine natural habitat. It also fosters a sense of connection and stewardship among people as they observe and root for these impressive bears, showcasing the incredible resilience of these animals in the face of their environment’s harsh demands while also showcasing the of Katmai National Park.
Congrats, Grazer! We here at JoJ wish you a happy, restful hibernation.