On the Brooks River, in Katmai National Park, live exemplary brown bears who earn their stardom by plumping up for hibernation. This week is Fat Bear Week, and you get to vote on which chunky competitor is your favorite.
What is Fat Bear Week?
Each year, The National Park Service puts together a bracket of the fattest bears in Katmai National Park, and the crowds get to decide who is the favorite. Out of the 12 bears this year, there is a mix of returning favorites and rookies.
Selecting the competitors is a serious job. According to the The Washington Post, the selection process was so difficult this year they almost decided to expand the number of competitors.
“I know that some of the decisions we made about who’s in and who isn’t are sure to be controversial,” said Lian Law, a visual information specialist at Katmai.
Fat Bear Week is more than just a fun competition — it raises awareness for conservation efforts being made in places like Katmai. The National Park Service calls it “a celebration of success and survival.”
How does Fat Bear Week work?
This year’s Fat Bear Week starts Oct. 5 and goes until Oct. 11. Throughout the week, virtual participants can learn about the histories of each bear and the ecosystem in Katmai.
Fans get to see the bears before and after as they go from slender to meaty. Before voting, participants are encouraged to select which bear best demonstrates Fat Bear Week. It is also important to take each bear’s history and progress into account before making a selection.
Fat Bear Week is a single-elimination tournament. Participants can pick who is “fattest of the fat” between each matchup to help determine who will survive another round. On Fat Bear Tuesday, Oct. 11, the final bear will be crowned king or queen of Fat Bear Week 2022.
How do you vote?
To vote, go to Katmai’s website. Voting runs every day between 10 a.m. and 7 p.m. MDT.