By Stacey Leasca
October 02, 2019
Peter Zala/Getty Images

Forget the holidays, our favorite time of year is Fat Bear Week at Katmai National Park in Alaska.

For the last five years, the national park has pitted its fattest and most famous bears against one another in a March Madness-style bracket competition. The winner of the competition is chosen by you, the fans of fat bears everywhere.

“There is no shame in winning this contest as large amounts of body fat in brown bears is indicative of good health and strong chances of survival,” the park explains on its site. “The bears need stores of fat to help them survive their Sleeping Beauty impersonations.”

The park noted that during winter hibernation, which can last for up to half of the year in their den, a bear “could lose up to one-third of its body mass. In preparation, the bears are entering hyperphagia this time of year, a state in which they eat nearly non-stop; hopefully, no witches show up with suspect looking apples during this time.”

To pick your favorite all you need to do is log on to Katmai's explore.org webcams to view the bears. From there, you can vote for your favorite bear on Katmai National Park and Preserve’s Facebook page in head-to-head matches each day beginning Oct. 2nd. As the park explained, the bear whose photo receives the most likes will advance to the next round, until one bear is crowned “Fattest Bear” on Fat Bear Tuesday, Oct. 8th.

There are already a few favorites circling the web to take the crown for Fat Bear Week. The park revealed its own strongest contender, bear 747, “whose name and heft conjure up images of jumbo jets.” However, 747 is facing stiff competition from bear 435, also known as Holly.

Bear 128, also known as Grazer, who has “been very successful in packing on the pounds and might even bring a new litter of cubs into their dens this winter.” But hey, it’s anyone’s game, so make sure to log on and vote for your favorite.

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