In the riveting annual face-off at Katmai National Park, Bear 128, known as Grazer, clinched the Fat Bear Week title. The National Park Service reported Grazer’s landmark win as she bagged a whopping 108,000 votes. Her opponent, Bear 32 or Chunk, trailed with just 23,000 votes.
Potential Shutdown Threatens Tradition: Rumors swirled about a possible government shutdown jeopardizing the contest. Thankfully, the event, a staple since 2014, went on without a hitch. Last week saw the commencement of voting. The contest, a joint venture of Katmai National Park, explore.org, and the Katmai Conservancy, celebrates the hefty bears of Brooks Falls. These bears feast on salmon, gearing up for the chilly winter.
Grazer’s Path to Glory: The contest’s website hails Grazer as a formidable presence at Brooks River. She dominated the early rounds, beating Bear 151, Walker. On Monday, a bigger challenge awaited her. She faced Bear 435, a past champion known as Holly.
Maternal Might on Display: Both Holly and Grazer have a reputation for strong maternal instincts in the park. Holly once adopted an orphaned cub in 2014. Grazer, on the other hand, stands out as a fiercely protective mother, often taking on larger bears to defend her cubs. In their clash, Grazer garnered 83,342 votes, leaving Holly with 18,597.
Chunk’s Journey to the Finals: Chunk, known to the park since 2007, outperformed many this season. He outpaced a Fat Bear Jr. contestant and Bear 901, a mother returning with three cubs. However, the final had a twist. As the park quipped in an online post, “Chunk got Grazered.”
An Unprecedented Voting Turnout: The contest’s popularity soared this year, with its website noting a record 1.3 million votes.