Fat Bear Week Is a Thing in Alaska — and This Park Needs Your Help Finding the Fattest of Them All (Video)
In Brooks River, the biggest bear is the best bear.
That’s why Katmai National Park and Preserve in King Salmon, Alaska pays tribute to its voluptuous bear residents by hosting its annual Fat Bear Week to determine the fattest (read: best) bear in the reserve.
The competition is styled kind of like March Madness. The public votes on commonly seen brown bears on the park’s Bear Cam, pitting them against one another on a bracket until one bear reigns supreme.
Just in case you feel sorry for the bears, don’t be. Since brown bears require stores of fat to help them survive the winter during hibernation, being the “fattest bear” is a sign of good health. The park’s website notes that this is actually the time when bears start to eat non-stop in order to prepare for the winter, so a fat bear is a happy and healthy bear.
According to the park’s website, some notable competitors include Bear 747, whose “belly barely makes clearance with the ground,” Bear 435 Holly who is a “mother of two cubs,” and the previous year’s champion Bear 480 Otis.
This year’s competition kicked off on October 3 and will continue until October 9.