Fat Bear Week is happening! Check out the contestants now, start voting Wednesday

Oct 3, 2023, 10:05 AM

Fat Bear Week is happening and voting begins on Wednesday. Bears line up at the falls at Katmai Nat...

Fat Bear Week is happening and voting begins on Wednesday. Bears line up at the falls at Katmai National Park & Preserve this past summer waiting for salmon upon which to chomp. Mandatory Credit: Courtesy N. Boak/Katmai National Park

(CNN) — Hey, fans of the annual Fat Bear Week online contest out of Alaska – it’s on!

It was touch and go there this past weekend while politicians in Washington raced to secure a last-minute deal to keep federal government services running until mid-November. Fat Bear Week was one of the programs that would have been halted during the shutdown.

But with a stopgap funding measure in place, bear fans can now turn their attention to the voting that matters to them: selecting a winner in the annual contest for the big lugs of Katmai National Park & Preserve in Alaska.

The 12 contestants were revealed at 7 p.m. ET Monday, and the public can start voting noon Wednesday ET, according to Katmai’s webpage on the contest.

Voting will conclude on October 10. The National Park Service said more than 1 million votes were cast for the 2022 contest, which was won by hefty bear 747 after a cheating scandal briefly disrupted the voting process.

How it works and this year’s fat bears

Anyone who follows NCAA basketball brackets each March will recognize this stripped-down version.

“Rangers create a tournament style bracket pitting individual bears against each other. The public then votes to see who will advance each round,” according to the webpage. You can go to to vote.

The 2023 lineup includes fan favorite Otis, who “moves less to catch more” according to the announcement video, and last year’s winner 747, who is rarely challenged for prime fishing spots. Now it’s time to meet the contenders:

• 32 Chunk: A large adult male with narrowly set eyes, a prominent brow ridge and a distinctive scar across his muzzle. Even at his leanest, Chunk carries substantial fat reserves. Chunk on!
• 128 Grazer: She’s a large adult female with a long, straight muzzle and blond ears. During late summer and fall, Grazer has grizzled, light brown fur and is often one of the fattest bears of Brooks River, where many of the Katmai bears feed.
• 151 Walker: A large adult male, he’s a frequent user of Brooks Falls and often has easy access to productive fishing spots because of his size and disposition.
• 164 Bucky Dent: A medium-sized adult male, he created his own fishing spot at the very base of Brooks Falls at the edge of the deepest plunge pool, a place other bears seldom use.
• 284 Electra: She’s a medium-sized adult with perky ears, a long neck and prominent shoulder hump. She’ll fish the lower river and has two known litters of cubs, whom she fiercely protects.
• 402 bear: A large adult female, 402 has medium brown fur and crescent or apostrophe-shaped ears when viewed from front or back. Her claim to fame: Eight known litters, the most of any bear currently at Brooks River.
• 428 bear: A pudgy, 3.5-year-old subadult bear, 428 has blond ears and grizzled, light brown fur.  As an independent bear in 2023, she’s navigated the river without her mama’s guidance for the first time.
• 435 Holly: She’s large adult female with blond ears and pale, tan-colored claws. By early autumn, she is usually very fat with grizzled blond fur. She’s a remarkable mom, having raised one injured cub and adopting another cub years later. She’s currently a single bear.
• 480 Otis: He’s a medium-large adult male with a blocky muzzle and a floppy right ear. Otis was 4 to 6 years old when he was first identified in 2001, and he’s now one of the older male bears at Brooks River.
• 747 bear: The 2022 winner is a large adult male with a blocky muzzle and floppy ears. He has become a giant among bears, once estimated to weigh 1,400 pounds (635 kilograms).
• 901 bear: She’s a medium-sized adult female with blond-rimmed, triangular ears. 901’s fur is golden brown in early summer and grizzled-brown in late summer. One of her three cubs disappeared in mid-September.
• 806 Jr.: Rounding out the list is this male first-year cub with long, shaggy brown fur and a short, pointed muzzle. This feisty club fishes with mom (806) and on several occasions this year was swept downstream or over the waterfall.

Learn much more about the 2023 bears and see before/after shots at this NPS site or at

Live cam

The live cam from the Brooks River at Katmai is a popular online feature.

The contest is fun way to highlight the rhythm of life for bears foraging on the salmon of the Brooks and other rivers and streams at this park in coastal southwest Alaska as they prepare for their winter hibernation.

For these bears, fat is good. They must eat a year’s worth of food in six months in order to survive their long winter slumber.

The-CNN-Wire™ & © 2023 Cable News Network, Inc., a Warner Bros. Discovery Company. All rights reserved.

KSL 5 TV Live


The USS Carney shot down two Houthi drones headed in the ship’s direction in the southern Red Sea...

Haley Britzky and Hamdi Alkhshali, CNN

USS Carney shoots down drones, responds to ballistic missile attack on commercial vessel

The USS Carney shot down two Houthi drones headed in the ship’s direction in the southern Red Sea on Sunday and responded to a distress call from a civilian commercial vessel that was fired upon by a ballistic missile, a US defense official said.

2 hours ago

People walk past advertised Black Friday discount signs at the Macy's retail store inside the Queen...

Sergio Padilla, CNN

While Black Friday and Cyber Monday did well, Giving Tuesday lagged

Americans seemed more willing to spend money on Black Friday and Cyber Monday, but less willing to donate money on Giving Tuesday.

3 hours ago

Alaska Air (ALK) on Sunday announced it will buy rival Hawaiian Airlines (HA) for $1.9 billion. (R...

Eva Rothenberg, CNN

Alaska Air to buy Hawaiian Airlines for $1.9 billion

Alaska Air (ALK) on Sunday announced it will buy rival Hawaiian Airlines (HA) for $1.9 billion.

3 hours ago

Theodore "Ted" Conrad was an unassuming bank teller when he strolled out of an Ohio bank with more ...

Faith Karimi, CNN

Father to daughter on his deathbed: He was a bank robber, fugitive

Two months before he died of lung cancer in 2021, Thomas Randele made a shocking confession to his wife and daughter: He’d been living under a fake name for almost five decades after robbing an Ohio bank of $215,000.

6 hours ago

FILE: French police have arrested a man suspected of killing one person and injuring two others in ...

Chris Liakos, Heather Chen and Mitchell McCluskey, CNN

One dead, two injured in Paris knife and hammer attack near Eiffel Tower

 (CNN) — French police have arrested a man suspected of killing one person and injuring two others in a knife and hammer attack in central Paris. The attack took place at Bir Hakeim, near the Eiffel Tower, France’s Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin told reporters at the scene on Saturday night. He said that the man arrested […]

20 hours ago

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, left, speaks during an event for his GOP presidential campaign as his wi...

Steve Contorno and Veronica Stracqualursi, CNN

DeSantis, all-in on Iowa, finishes 99-county tour where he started

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis completed his tour of Iowa’s 99 counties on Saturday.

22 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Stylish room interior with beautiful Christmas tree and decorative fireplace...

Lighting Design

Create a Festive Home with Our Easy-to-Follow Holiday Prep Guide

Get ready for festive celebrations! Discover expert tips to prepare your home for the holidays, creating a warm and welcoming atmosphere for unforgettable moments.

Battery low message on mobile device screen. Internet and technology concept...

PC Laptops

9 Tips to Get More Power Out of Your Laptop Battery

Get more power out of your laptop battery and help it last longer by implementing some of these tips from our guide.

Users display warnings about the use of artificial intelligence (AI), access to malicious software ...

Les Olson

How to Stay Safe from Cybersecurity Threats

Read our tips for reading for how to respond to rising cybersecurity threats in 2023 and beyond to keep yourself and your company safe.

Design mockup half in white and half in color of luxury house interior with open plan living room a...

Lighting Design

Lighting Design 101: Learn the Basics

These lighting design basics will help you when designing your home, so you can meet both practical and aesthetic needs.

an antler with large horns int he wilderness...

Three Bear Lodge

Yellowstone in the Fall: A Wildlife Spectacle Worth Witnessing

While most people travel to this park in the summer, late fall in Yellowstone provides a wealth of highlights to make a memorable experience.

a diverse group of students raising their hands in a classroom...

Little Orchard Preschool

6 Benefits of Preschool for Kids

Some of the benefits of preschool for kids include developing independence, curiosity, and learning more about the world.

Fat Bear Week is happening! Check out the contestants now, start voting Wednesday