“We don’t have a large enough scale.”
A bear in Alaska has become famous, and he has no idea why.
The Katmai National Park Service declared a brown bear named Otis to be the fattest bear ever captured on camera this week. After allowing visitors to vote on a series of photos of some of its resident bears, the park decided to hold a Facebook competition. However, Otis’s exact weight is unknown.
“We don’t have a big enough scale,” Anela Ramos, a representative for Katmai National Park, said of the roughly 20-year-old bear. “However, we estimate 1,000 pounds, give or take.”
A male brown bear weighs around 700 pounds on average.
Otis has one floppy ear and a distinctive dark blonde coat, in addition to being decidedly plump. He also lacks two front teeth. “It’s really impressive that he’s able to eat so much salmon,” Ramos said. “We’ve all experienced how difficult it is to eat after going to the dentist and having some teeth pulled!”
Otis lives in the Katmai National Park and Preserve’s Brooks River region, but in the summer, he stays in one spot – a section of the river ideal for salmon fishing. “It’s called ‘his office’ or ‘Otis’s office,'” Ramos explained. “He patiently waits for fish to approach him, and he works so hard that he sleeps in his office while fishing. He’s one of the bears that can be seen on the bear cam on a regular basis.”
“Otis may not be the most dominant or lively bear in the park, but he is the fattest,” the park wrote on Facebook.
Otis’ physique is certainly impressive, but his weight also indicates a healthy ecosystem. “Seeing big fat healthy bears indicates a healthy environment,” Ramos explained. “If we see them emaciated, we know something is wrong with the system.”
While Otis might be living a healthy life, global bear populations are in decline. In fact, some reports claim that certain types of brown bears occupy as little as 2 percent of their former ranges. Primary threats include mining, logging and road construction, although trophy hunting plays a part as well. In Asia, bears are targeted for their paws, bladders and bile, which are used in Chinese medicine.
Katmai National Park has a population of about 2,000 bears including Otis. Here’s hoping that all of them are as fat and healthy as he is!