A true “titan or tonnage” was crowned.
After a record-breaking week of voting, the Katmai National Park and Preserve named the 2021 Fat Bear Week champion as none of other than the original winner himself — 480 Otis.
A weeklong celebration in Southwest Alaska of bears bulking up during hibernation, winter near saw fans vote on the bear that they believed was the chonkiest. This year, over 793,000 votes were cast during the week, breaking last year’s record of around 650,000 votes.
After a tough week of competition, 480 Otis defeated fellow big boy 151 Walker, also known as the “Baron of Beardonkadonk,” to become an unprecedented four-time Fat Bear Week champion. 480 Otis was the inaugural Fat Bear Week champion in 2014, before winning back-to-back titles in 2016-17, and then once again taking the chonky crown this year.
Otis, 480, defeated several heavyweights in his quest to win, which included 747 last year, the champion. There is no actual prize for the “portly patriarch of paunch” other than global recognition he probably won’t ever be aware of.
When he was just four-years old, park rangers discovered that 480 Otis had been identified. Brown bears live around 20-30 year, so it is possible that 480 Otis might be reaching this age. The old timer still knows a few tricks.
While most of the majestic creatures in this year’s 12-bear tournament are some of the most dominant ones at the national park – which can result in confrontations over popular feeding spots – 480 Otis avoids all of that.
Instead of trying to catch salmon, 480 Otis just waits for them. Although 480 Otis “occasionally seems to be asleep or not paying attention to the fish”, he still manages to eat, which is evident by his 2021 Fat Bear Week victory.
“He’s known for sitting in his ‘office’ on the far side of the fall. He just chills there and waits for the fish to come to him,” Sara Wolman, project and media manager for Katmai Conservancy, told USA TODAY last week. “He did really gain weight this year.”
480 Otis is one of an estimated 2,200 bears that occupy the national park, which is a popular place for them to feed before the winter due to the abundance of sockeye salmon. One fish can contain around 4,500 calories, and Cheryl Spencer, a ranger at the park, said its critical for bears to eat so much as they can lose a third of their body weight in hibernation.
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