The best time of the year is here once again, as Fat Bear Week kicks off tomorrow, celebrating some of the chubbiest and cutest bears in a bracket-style tournament.
Fat Bear Week, an annual tradition held at Katmai National Park in Alaska, is held over the course of seven days and concludes on Fat Bear Tuesday, Oct. 10. The park pins several bears against each other, letting the people choose which bear to crown as the fattest.
“All bears are winners, but only one true champion will emerge,” the park said.
Fat Bear Tuesday started in 2014 and has grown with overwhelming success as more than 1 million votes were cast in 2022’s Fat Bear Week alone.
The week helps celebrate “fat bears and Katmai’s healthy ecosystem has since become a tradition,” the park shared. While it may seem like an insult, it’s actually a compliment.
“For bears, fat equals survival. Each winter, bears enter the den where they will not eat or drink until they emerge in spring,” the park noted. “During this time, they may lose up to one-third of their body weight as they rely solely on their fat reserves. Survival depends on eating a year’s worth of food in six months.”
Bears in Katmai are able to beef up thanks to the steady supply of salmon available to them from late June through September.
Here’s the breakdown of the week:
On Wednesday, Oct. 4, the week will begin, as the bracket will be released, and people can begin voting on their favorite bear at www.fatbearweek.org.
Criteria for voting is left solely to whoever is casting their ballot, according to the park.
After seven days, the winner will be crowned on Fat Bear Tuesday.
Throughout the week, there will also be a series of online chats on explore.org focusing on the individual bears competing and the park’s ecosystem.
“Fat bears exemplify the richness of this area, a wild region that is home to more brown bears than people and the largest, healthiest runs of sockeye salmon left on the planet,” the park said.
For past winners, visit the park’s website here.