nature is beautiful

What Is Fat Bear Week and Why Is It So Good?

Three fat bears.
Photo: Gary Schultz/Design Pics/Getty Images/First Light

Every animal has their own way of preparing for the winter. Squirrels hoard nuts, birds fly south, humans buy SAD lamps, and bears just get as fat as physically possible. So fat, in fact, that it’s inspired a beloved annual competition: Fat Bear Week.

For those unfamiliar, please join me on this enormous-ursine journey.

What is Fat Bear Week and where and when is it happening?

The idea of pitting fat bears against each other (in our hearts and minds) first came to fruition in 2014, when Katmai National Park in Alaska held a one-day competition called Fat Bear Tuesday. In 2015, presumably because of the public’s overwhelming interest in the biggest bears their park had to offer, they expanded to a one-week March Madness–style competition. People are encouraged to watch the fat bears at Brooks Falls on and then vote for their favorite big boys and girls on . The competition started on Wednesday, with the fattest bear crowned next Tuesday, October 9.

Who’s competing?

It all started with 12 beautiful, chunky brown bears: 151 Walker, 409 Beadnose, 854 Divot, 503, 812, 32 Chunk, 719, 435’s Cubs, 480 Otis, 435 Holly, 856, and 747. Here’s the bracket as it stands today:

How have they been training?

“In preparation, this time of year the bears are entering hyperphagia, a state in which they eat nearly nonstop,” the park in a press release. “Since July, the bears have seen dramatic and transformative weight gain that will be on full display during Fat Bear Week.” To this, I offer a deep, spiritual “same.”

Who has the best chance of being America’s Next Top Fat Bear?

Last year’s champion, 480 Otis, is back again this year and ready to defend his title. But bear 747 appears to be the strongest competitor this year. The park says “his belly barely makes clearance with the ground” while to an ecologist who watched him eat 67,000 calories of salmon in just 3 hours.

Can I enter Fat Bear Week myself?

Are you a bear? If not, no. If yes, please get off the internet, it’s not good for you.

Why is Fat Bear Week so good?

This, I cannot answer. Only you can open yourself up to Fat Bear Week and receive the joy it brings to you.

Also, come on, it’s a bunch of fat bears.

What Is Fat Bear Week and Why Is It So Good?