One of the biggest events of the year has returned: Fat Bear Week at Katmai National Park, KTLA sister station WAVY in Portsmouth, Virginia, reports.
Wednesday marked the start of the annual competition at the national park in Alaska, where more than 2,000 brown bears live and eat a whole bunch of salmon.
Each year the park holds the online contest to crown its fattest brown bear, which are at their chunkiest in late summer and early fall. They need those extra pounds to get through a monthslong hibernation. At Katmai, that means eating up to about 30 salmon a day from the Brooks River.
The single-elimination tournament from Sept. 29 to Oct. 5 is pretty simple: Fat bear fans click on which one they think is the fattest in head-to-head matchups. The bear with the most votes advances.
Voting runs each day from 12 p.m. to 9 p.m. EST, or 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. PST.
In 2020, a total of 640,000 votes were cast.
Bear 747, last year’s champion, is competing again this year. The large adult male is estimated to weigh more than 1,400 pounds. Other bears include 32 Chunk, last year’s runner up; 435 Holly, a female bear who was the 2019 champ; and three-time winner 480 Otis.
This year also brought the first Fat Bear Junior competition, featuring the chubbiest cubs at the park. Bear 132 took the top spot “with flab and floof.”
132 is actually in the adult bracket as well. Here it is.
After you vote, you can watch a livestream of the bears here.