Are Brave Enough For Fat Bear Week? You May Die of Cuteness!

Big brown bear (Ursus arctos) in the mountain

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Ready for some chonky goodness? If you’re a buff for fluff, there’s nothing better than Fat Bear Week. It’s the Super Bowl for supersized ursids and biggun bruins.

Early in October, the Katmai National Park and Preserve in Alaska hosts Fat Bear Week, an annual contest to crown a champion amongst the biggest bears in the park.

Is Fat Bear Week Actually a Competition?

Two Black grizzly bears while fighting
Photo Credit: Deposit Photos.

The Nationation Park Service says -“Fat Bear Week – an annual celebration of success. All bears are winners, but only one true champion will emerge. Held over the course of seven days and concluding on the Fat Bear Tuesday, people chose which bear to crown in this tournament-style bracket where bears are pitted against each other for your vote.”

So, if you believe brackets, votes, and crowning a champion define a competition, then Fat Bear Week is a big bear bout in your book.

Are Fat Bears Healthy?

Fat bear on log
Photo Credit: Deposit Photos.

For bears, fat means winter survival. As the days grow colder and food gets scarce, bears enter their dens and will not eat or drink until they emerge in spring. They may lose up to one-third of their body weight during this time, relying solely on their fat reserves for up to six months. So unlike chonky pets, a fat bear is a healthy bear with a good chance of making it through the winter.

How Did Fat Bear Week Get Started?

She-bear and cubs in the summer forest.
Photo Credit: Deposit Photos.

Fat Bear Week began in 2014 as Fat Bear Tuesday, a play on words of the Mardis Gras tradition of consuming foods high in fat and sugar to prepare for Lenten fasting. It was so popular that Katmai National Park extended it into a full week of competition. Today, over 1 million participants cast their votes for their favorite fatty.

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Why Do the Bears Come to Katmai National Park?

She-bear and bear-cubs. Adult female of Brown Bear (Ursus arctos) with cubs on the snow in spring forest.
Photo Credit: Deposit Photos.

Bears come to Katmai National Park for salmon, which are readily available from roughly late June through September. Salmon have supported Katmai’s people, bears, and other animals for centuries. There are more brown bears than people in this wild region, and the fat bears signify the richness and bounty of this land. Experts say Katmai has the largest, healthiest runs of sockeye salmon on the planet.

Is There More to Fat Bear Week Than the Competition?

Bear in forest
Photo Credit: Deposit Photos.

Fat Bear Week is more than just a competition. It’s a window to the natural world and an opportunity to learn more about these amazing animals. The park hosts a series of online chats on explore.org from resident naturalists and rangers that focus on individual bears and Katmai’s healthy ecosystem. Teachers and parents can find activities and a bear-based curriculum on the park’s website.

Can I Enjoy Katmai When It’s Not Fat Bear Week?

Large adult Alaskan brown bear sow standing on its hind legs in the Brooks River in Katmai National Park, Alaska
Photo Credit: Deposit Photos.

Only 25,00 people visit the Katmai National Park and Preserve to enjoy hiking, photography, and wildlife watching. However, you can tune in to the explore.org bear cams for unprecedented access to the bears of Brooks River.

Should I Feed The Bears

Momma and baby bear eating a fish in a stream
Photo Credit: Deposit Photos.

Sometimes, you might want to “poke the bear,” but under no circumstances should you ever feed the bear. It never works out for the bear, so please, please, please, don’t intentionally or unintentionally feed bears.

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