We’ve all heard of Shark Week, but have you heard of Fat Bear Week? For those who haven’t, Fat Bear Week is an annual celebration of Katmai, Alaska’s success.
During the winter months, bears rely heavily on the fat reserves they have built up during the summer months for survival. After emerging in the spring, these bears must eat a year’s worth of food in six months to endure the coming winter months. The bears of Katmai are documented during their bulking season by park rangers before hibernation. The public then votes on their favorite fat bear, taking into consideration things like growth spurts, age, or even the extenuating circumstances of motherhood. The bears observed in this celebration represent Katmai’s healthy ecosystem and the wildlife that resides there.
So, how does Fat Bear Week work? Very similarly to March-Madness, the bears are put in a lineup and the public then votes on individual bears to see who will continue on to the next round. By the end of the summer, one bear will be voted “fattest” before they go into their hibernation. While it may sound silly, many people find Fat Bear Week to be exciting and entertaining, myself included.
Fat Bear Week officially starts on October 5 of this year and concludes on October 11, with voting taking place during this week. However, for those truly interested in these fat bears, you can tune into the bear cams set up by park rangers for the entirety of the season. These cameras allow you to observe the bears in their natural habitats without disruption. Some of the past champions of Fat Bear Week include Holly (2019), Beadnose (2018), and Otis (2014, 2016, 2017, 2021).
With Fat Bear Week quickly approaching, I have been eagerly tracking this year’s lineup. I’m hoping to see our latest champion, Otis, on top again, but there is still time for votes to flood in. Who’s your favorite fat bear of the year?