Fat bear
A fat bear of Katmai National Park; photo credit: National Park Service/A. Ramos

Meet the Fattest Bears in Alaska (and Vote for Your Fave)

Fat Bear Week — established to raise awareness around bear habits and hibernation (and provide some friendly competition) — is finally here. And you can take part.

There are plenty of great holidays surrounding the outdoors, like National Parks Day and National Ski and Snowboard Day.

But our favorite might be Fat Bear Tuesday, celebrated on October 8 by Katmai National Park and people across the world via the internet. Today marks the exciting lead-up to the holiday: Fat Bear Week.

Katmai No problem Fat Bears

‘Fat Bear Week’ Contest

The premise is this: The park shares photos of the fattest bears along the Brooks River. Then people vote. The bear voted the fattest wins. “The possibility of winning the Fat Bear Week title has all the bears ready to compete,” wrote Katmai National Park on its Facebook page.

The contest rules are simple. Visit Katmai’s Facebook page each day this week (October 2-8) to check out the fat bear competitors and vote for the one you think is fattest.

But why are we voting on fat bears, you might wonder? In preparation for winter, the bears are entering hyperphagia, a state in which they eat nearly nonstop, explained Katmai National Park in a recent press release.

“Two-time Fat Bear Week champion, 480 Otis, gets his substantial size by practicing a ‘move less, eat more’ technique,” wrote the park in a post.

The park names every known bear, and each has a story. The kind folks at Katmai even put together a lookbook of their residents each year, which you can download online.

Beadnose fat bear
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Katmai National Park

Katmai National Park was established in 1918 to protect the volcanically devastated region of the Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes. Today, the park is an important and protective home to thousands of brown bears.

If you can’t visit the park in person (which we recommend), you can watch Katmai’s live bearcam, which documents bears’ feeding habits along the river and their activity throughout the park.

And thanks to the popularity of Katmai’s park webcams, the audience for Fat Bear Week gets bigger every year. This is the fifth running of the holiday. On Tuesday, one bear will be crowned the 2019 Fat Bear Tuesday Champion.

Mary Murphy

Mary is based in Denver, Colorado, but frequently travels abroad. Her outdoor interests span from climbing to landscape photography to pack-paddleboarding. If she's not writing, you can most likely find her at the top of a fourteener, or in a local bakery.