Thousand-pound Otis is the roly-poly champion of Fat Bear Week

Otis the bear in a river

It’s survival of the fattest in the bear world.” This quote from the Facebook page of Katmai National Park in Alaska pretty much sums up the survival strategies of bears. In order to survive their long winter hibernation, bears need fat, and lots of it.

So to shine a spotlight on some of its biggest bears this year, the park held a competition to see who’s the fattest bear of them all. They posted photos of the bears during the spring next to their current photos, asking people to vote on who had most successfully packed on the pounds.

The winner? Otis, a thousand-pound lovable monster who scarfs down salmon at an incredible rate. Otis is a 19- or 20-year-old Kodiak bear who’s spent a lifetime honing his eating skills. He tends to avoid confrontation with other bears, instead sticking to a trusted area of the river where lots of salmon go by. He even sometimes sleeps in the river as he awaits his meals. Despite missing two front teeth, Otis manages to eat with the best of them.

Otis the bear
Photo by Katmai National Park/Facebook
This year’s champion fat bear, Otis.

Anela Ramos, a representative of Katmai Park, notes that fat bears are important for reasons beyond their cuteness. “Seeing big fat healthy bears is an indicator of a healthy environment,” she told the Dodo. Fat bears are also more prepared for hibernation season, meaning champion eaters are also champion sleepers. Thankfully, there were plenty of fat bears in the competition this year, including last year’s champion, Beadnose.

Otis in the river
Photo by Katmai National Park/Facebook
Otis gets a lot of his sustenance by staying near a section of the river where he knows there’s lots of salmon.

Not everyone was pleased with the public’s decision to crown Otis the fat-bear king. In a parody of certain other election candidates this year, one Twitter user posted “Election RIGGED! Otis colluded with CROOKED salmon.”

The rest of us, however, are thrilled for Otis. He’s fat and adorable, and there’s lots of him to love. Four more years!

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