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Fat Bear Week 2020 crowns its big winner

Oct 7, 2020, 7:20 AM
fat bear week winner...
Congratulations, Bear 747! He's been crowned the winner of Katmai National Park's Fat Bear Week 2020. The way that stomach hangs, he deserves it. Credit: From National Parks Service

    (CNN) — After gorging on salmon all summer and fall, one Alaskan brown bear is the fattest of all and been crowned the winner of Fat Bear Week.

Bear 747, a blubbery beast at Katmai National Park and Preserve, was voted the winner of this year’s Fat Bear Week competition, a celebration of the park’s bulging bears as they fatten up before hibernation.

The champion bear was first identified by park officials in 2004 but had never made it to the finals of Fat Bear Week. But 747 outdid himself this year, according to the park — he could’ve been ready to hibernate as early as July with the way his stomach hung, but he continued to feast, narrowly beating out his beefy runner-up, Chunk.

The fatter the bear, the healthier they’ll be when they emerge from hibernation. The national park’s bears fatten up before they hibernate for the winter, when they must live off their fat stores while they waiting out the cold weather in their dens.

Fat bears thrive in Katmai National Park, specifically on the Brooks River. It’s of the largest and healthiest “runs” of salmon — that’s when salmon migrate upstream and lay eggs on riverbeds — in the world, according to the park. And in Alaska’s Bristol Bay, where part of the park is located, brown bears outnumber the human residents.

Bear 747 is a humble victor. To celebrate his win, he’ll probably do what he always does — chow down on salmon in preparation for hibernation.

“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 park said.

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Fat Bear Week 2020 crowns its big winner