They could wipe out a buffet table in seconds. They make our snacking look like the work of an amateur. They’ve reached unparalleled levels of chonkiness. We’re talking about the tubby bears at Katmai National Park’s Brooks River, and this year’s favorite has been named.
In the 2023 Fat Bear Week competition, number 128 Grazer has not only gobbled up as much food as possible, but also gobbled up that crown. In an Instagram post announcing the winner, the National Park Service wrote of this portly predator, “She’s beauty and she’s grace, she stuffed so much salmon in her face.”
Congrats to 128 Grazer, our 2023 #FatBearWeek champion! Though unaware of her title in this imaginary contest, her success is real! For bears, fat = success, & she’s set up well for winter.
We had a record-shattering 1,382,783 votes! There’s so much love for our bears! ❤️ pic.twitter.com/jpJY8c78uc
— Katmai National Park (@KatmaiNPS) October 11, 2023
They added, “Congrats to the 2023 #FatBearWeek champion, 128 Grazer! With a dominant performance (We haven’t seen a walk like that since Jurassic Park), Grazer’s resilience and strength is the epitome of Katmai’s brown bears.”
While her shapely silhouette is to be admired, it’s also good news for her survival, as the NPS notes that she’ll be well prepared for winter.
Grazer took the title in a final vote that wasn’t even close, beating her opponent number 32 Chunk by more than 85,000 votes – 108,321 to 23,134. That’s a pretty hefty difference.
According to their biographies, Chunk was first identified in 2007 as a 2.5-year-old. He’s been known to play with other bears and is often reluctant or unable to challenge other males. Apparently challenging female bears was hard in this competition, too.
Grazer, meanwhile, has no problem getting up in other bears’ faces, especially when she’s raising cubs and wants to protect them. She’s been on the radar since she was a cub in 2005 and is able to maintain her girlish figure with midnight salmon snacks and well-regarded fishing skills.
The NPS says voluminous vixens like Grazer face hard winters that can be difficult to survive, as throughout hibernation, they can lose up to a third of their body fat. For the bears at Katmai, salmon helps in this regard. It provides plenty of fat, particularly in certain areas like the brain and skin, which the bears will focus on as they do their seasonal bulking. That’s something the bears in this competition clearly did.
To learn more about how bears like Grazer prepare for their months-long snooze, you can find the facts on bear hibernation, including how much they can eat, here. You can also learn more about Fat Bear Week here!