October 7, 2022
Missing it would be un-bear-able. The annual “Fat Bear Week” of Katmai, Alaska, officially has begun. The weeklong festival, which began in 2014, is a celebration of the resilience, adaptability, and strength of the local brown bears, reports the New York Post.
According to the National Park Service, the festival officially runs from October 5 to October 11, during which 12 different brown bears compete in a March Madness-style tournament bracket to see who can be voted the meatiest bear of all.
The competition highlights the transformation from fluff to buff that bears undertake before they go into winter hibernation. The average adult brown bear goes from between 600 and 900 pounds to nearly 1,000 pounds before settling down for its annual nap.
Fans of the competition can follow each paw-tential winner’s eating tour live through the park’s webcams.
The bears are usually labeled by numbers but die-hard fans nicknamed their favorite competitors—including defending champ, Otis, and 747, who kept his numerical name because of his resemblance to a giant jet.
Park workers use “Fat Bear Week” as a fun way to educate the public about the wide-ranging behaviors of bears as well as their survival habits.
Official voting for the bears begins at 8 a.m. every day and the winner will be announced on October 15 at 4 p.m. (EDT).
Research contact: @nypost