The 10th annual Fat Bear Tuesday on Oct. 10 brought to a close this year’s Fat Bear Week celebration. The decade-old tradition celebrates the many bears that inhabit Katmai National Park as they bulk up for winter hibernation. At the end of the week, only one is crowned champion, and this year’s victor was Bear #128, “Grazer.”
“Heavy is the rump that wears the crown,” said explore.org in their announcement of the winner on Tuesday evening via their Instagram page. “Congrats to our 2023 #fatbearweek champion, the one and only 128 Grazer!”
Weighing an estimated 600-700 pounds, 128 isn’t the biggest bear, but she stole the hearts of the electorate, paving the way for her landslide win. On Tuesday’s final showdown, in a 108,321 to 23,134 vote against finalist and salmon enthusiast Bear #32, “Chunk,” 128’s victory made her the fifth unique competitor to bear the title of Fattest Bear.
In conjunction with the final vote, Mike Fitz, founder of Fat Bear Week, former Katmai National Park ranger and current explore.org resident naturalist, hosted a livestream with current Katmai rangers Naomi Boak, Felicia Jimenez and Chris Kliesrath. The livestream explored the two finalists’ journeys to greatness and answered viewer questions about bears and the competition.
Support from the public is essential to the work of the Katmai Conservancy and the continuation of Fat Bear Week. The Otis Fund, named after the first Fat Bear Tuesday champion, Bear #480, “Otis,” helps to financially support the Katmai Conservancy’s efforts. To encourage donations, explore.org, which hosts the Fat Bear Week tournament votes, will match every dollar donated to The Otis Fund through Saturday, Oct. 14.
Author: Jacob Horne
Photos courtesy of Katmai National Park
Editor: Lily Brunson