Fat Bear Week has crowned a huge new champion of chonk
In its 10th year, a new heavyweight hero has emerged to claim the title of summer fatty among the hot competition of local brown bears that call Katmai National Park, Alaska, home.
Female brown bear 128 Grazer easily beat out her male finalist 32 Chonk to take the title, scoring a massive 108,321 votes compared to his 23,134. The competition, which this year ran October 4-10, attracted more than a million votes as fans watched the bears on live cameras set up along the Brooks River to witness the animals take part in their annual salmon-eating bonanza.
Grazer, who park ranger Naomi Boak deemed “the best angler on the river” this year, was singularly focused on fattening up before next hibernation. Despite having previously sported cubs, which she has garnered a reputation for being a fierce defender of, Grazer made the most of her single status and empty nest to channel all her energy into eating.
Along the way to the title, she beat previous winners – 2022’s popular 747 and 2019’s Holly – and was a clear Fat Bear Week favorite.
“She’s beauty and she’s grace, she stuffed so much salmon in her face,” the National Park Service wrote on Facebook. “Grazer’s combination of skill and toughness makes her one of Brooks River’s most formidable, successful and adaptable bears, who is well prepared for winter.”
Grazer, who was introduced to Brooks River as a cub in 2005, has become a versatile fisherbear, who can catch salmon at the lip, far pool, and plunge pools of Brooks Falls. She'll also scavenge dying fish and catch throughout the night.
Adding that the park rangers “haven’t seen a walk like that since Jurassic Park,” the team note that what would otherwise be shaming, fat bears are cause for a huge celebration.
The bears, who emerge from hibernation a shadow of their former chubby selves, having lost up to a third of their body weight, feed on nutrient-dense and plentiful salmon from late-June to mid-October. Their survival over the following winter hibernation depends on how well they can pack on the pounds during this fishing frenzy.
It's also a celebration of Katmai National Park and Bristol Bay, which is home to more brown bears than humans and remains the world’s premier run for sockeye salmon – the largest and healthiest run left on the planet.
Source: National Park Service