The following is courtesy of Katmai National Park and the Katmai Conservancy:
King Salmon, AK – Katmai National Park and Preserve, With sizes rivaling buildings, freight trains, and airplanes, these super-fat-bears will soon be turning in their proverbial capes. Their nemesis winter continues its inevitable march and though these bears have courageously consumed copious quantities of salmon to insulate, hydrate and sustain themselves, they will soon all find shelter for their long winter hibernation. The real battle begins then as these bears must survive off the fat they’ve stored up in order to survive.
Online fans joining in the celebration of these bears corpulent bodies voted bear 747 as the 2020 Fat Bear Week champion. A total of 12 bears participated in this year’s March-madness style competition that ran from September 30 through today, but in the end, there could be only one. 747 joins a cohort of Fat Bear winners from seasons past including 409 Beadnose, 480 Otis, and last year’s queen, 435 Holly. We also want to extend our thanks to each and every person who took the time to vote in these competitions throughout Fat Bear Week as this competition simply couldn’t happen without them.
Bear 747 was first classified and given his number in 2004. Since that time, he has grown to be maybe the largest and heaviest bear on the Brooks River. Although 747 has been one of the largest bears on the river, this is his first Fat Bear Week Championship. This year he really packed on the pounds, looking like he was fat enough to hibernate in July and yet continuing to eat until his belly seemed to drag along the ground by late September. When asked what he intends to do now that he has won, the only response was a look before going back to fishing in the Jacuzzi near the Brooks Falls, one of his favorite fishing spots.
The bears of Katmai, including those who competed in this year’s Fat Bear Week, use their skill in an attempt to sate their profound hunger and meet the challenge of survival. Their transformation for the winter can be seen in photos taken in early summer and then again in the fall. For these bears, fatness means odds are good for a successful hibernation during which time they live off their accumulated fat, loosing up to 1/3 of their body mass in the process. This week celebrates their success and wishes them a good hibernation!
Fat bears exemplify the richness of Katmai National Park and Bristol Bay, Alaska, a wild region that is home to more brown bears than people and the largest, heathiest runs of sockeye salmon left on the planet.
The Katmai Conservancy is the official nonprofit fundraising partner of Katmai National Park and Preserve. The conservancy supports Katmai’s unique ecosystems, scenic character, and associated natural and cultural resources by promoting greater public interest, appreciation, and support through education, interpretation, and research. Membership, donations, or online purchases directly support Katmai’s research, education, and visitor service priorities.