You've Gotta See the Bears at Katmai National Park Who Are in the Running for Fat Bear Week
Bulbous bruins. Gargantuan grizzlies. Corpulent carnivores. Hell yeah, it's Fat Bear Week.
The annual contest to crown the best, fattest brown bear living at Brooks River in Alaska's Katmai National Park begins Wednesday and runs until Oct. 5. The competition consists of a single-elimination bracket to decide which of the river's 12 bears did the best job preparing for winter hibernation.
Because they'll be cooped up all winter in their dens without food or drink, these brown bears need to prepare themselves to lose up to one-third of their body weight, according to the National Park Service. So this is a celebration of a summer's worth of good work.
When it comes to voting, you can make your choice based on a variety of factors: pure heaviness, weight gained, best name, personality, best hair color, anything!
Now, let's meet the contenders, courtesy of explore.org:
One of the most dominant bears on the river, where he's lived since at least 2007. Even in the leaner months, he's towing around a massive caboose. He gets a first-round bye in the bracket.
An excellent fisher, she's the river's consummate mama bear. She'll even protect her cubs proactively, squaring up with the larger male bears. She faces 435 Holly in the first round.
Blonde bear! She's only about 3 years old, so she's still figuring things out without her mom around. That means it's harder to get food, so she might not reach her full, pudgy potential for a few years. She has a matchup with 812 in the first round.
132's Spring Cub
The Fat Bear Junior champion! He's only 9 months old but has already rounded out into a furry ball of mass, ready to face the big boys and girls. He's earned a first-round bye.
He's one of the largest bears on the river who doesn't really like other bears anymore. He weighed more than 1,000 pounds last year and is now even bigger. First up: 634 Popeye.
This bear has given birth to seven litters at least, and she might be preparing for more. She needs plenty of fat reserves to support bears in her den during hibernation, and it appears she might be getting ready to have another litter. In the first round, she has 480 Otis.
The 2019 champion, and a great mom who's helped injured cubs heal and eventually prosper. Holly has been around since 2001 and will be a formidable opponent for anyone. She gets 128 Grazer in the first round. Big matchup.
Does the Fat Bear Week legend have another title in him? He's the 2016 and 2017 champ, and he won the inaugural Fat Bear Tuesday in 2014. He's been at the river for more than 20 years, so the wily veteran can still fish with the best of them. He'll face 402 first.
435 Holly's adopted son, this big guy is now entering his prime eating years. He'll even still play with other bears, not yet becoming a dominant adult like others on the river. He'll enjoy a first-round bye.
He's in his early 20s, too, so he knows how to work around the younger, larger bears. He's dealt with a few injuries in his life, but he's still up to fish. He gets 151 Walker in the first round.
The most dominant male bear on the river, befitting of the numerical designation usually reserved for a jumbo jet. This big boi was crowned 2020's Fat Bear Week champion, so fans are likely expecting another great show in this year's competition. He often fishes in one of the river's jacuzzi, and looks to weigh a tremendous 1,400 pounds. He also gets a first-round bye.
A friendly guy, 812 will sometimes fish alongside bigger bears who allow him to be there. He likes to stand on rocks when he enjoys his salmon meals. He gets 131 in the first round.
Daily Paws' pick: 747. All hail our Mountainous King.
The voting features one matchup per day, starting with 435 Holly vs. 128 Grazer on Wednesday. Voting is open from 12–9 p.m. eastern time on explore.org. All it'll cost you is your email address.