Held every October as the park’s bears gulp down salmon in preparation for winter, Fat Bear Week pits more than a dozen of the largest bears in the park against each other in a March Madness-style bracket where the winners are decided by a popular vote. First-time champ 747 beat the runner-up, 32 Chunk, in a landslide, more than doubling his vote count.
First identified as a subadult in 2004, 747 is at least 18, making him one of the older bears on the river. A 3D scan last year estimated his weight at 1,400 pounds.
While the contest, which the park has held since 2014, is fun for the park’s followers, fattening up is deadly serious business for the bears. Bears that don’t gain enough weight in the run-up to the winter risk not being able to survive.