Fat Bear Week is Here

Voting for Fat Bear Week begins tomorrow and will start at 12:00 pm ET every day from tomorrow through October 11 at www.fatbearweek.org.

Animal lovers everywhere rejoice; Fat Bear Week is once again officially upon us.

One of the most wholesome elections in the U.S. isn’t between politicians — it’s between a dozen chunky brown bears. Every year, 12 bears at Katmai National Park in Alaska are placed into a playoff-style bracket, where voters can decide who will advance in each round. The criteria? You guessed it: chubbiness!

The annual contest, which began in 2014, is designed to highlight the amazing natural processes that bears must undergo over the course of a year.

Each spring, bears come out of hibernation looking starved and skinny. Throughout the summer, as they begin to re-enter the world, bears forge for food and pack on the pounds until they’re plump enough to go back into hibernation for the winter months and start the cycle all over again. During the bulk season, an average adult male bear can weigh anywhere between 600 to 900 pounds, with some even venturing into the 1,000-pound range.

Most of the bear contestants are known only by a tracker number. However, some of the bears, like Chunk, Holly, and 747, have become almost mini-celebrities of sorts over the years as a result of their gargantuan size and Fat Bear Week’s virality. The reigning 2021 champ is Otis, a four-time winner overall, including the very first Fat Bear contest eight years ago. You can check out a complete list of all the big, beefy boys and girls in this year’s tournament on the Washington Post.

In addition to voting in the tournament, Fat Bear fans can keep track of the bears by viewing the park's webcam, which chronicles the bears' pre-winter activity in the park as they forage and try to catch salmon along the Brooks River.

Voting for Fat Bear Week begins tomorrow and will

start at 12:00 pm ET every day from tomorrow through October 11 at www.fatbearweek.org.