A. Willingham/National Park Service
If you’re looking for some beary good news, look no further: Fat Bear Week 2021 is finally here.
Described as a “celebration of success and survival,” Fat Bear Week spotlights the resilience, adaptability and strength of the brown bears located at Katmai National Park & Preserve in Alaska, said the park’s Amber Kraft told NPR via email.
The annual competition, which started off as Fat Bear Tuesday seven years ago, shows how the bears get as fat as they can to prepare for winter hibernation.
Fat Bear Tuesday was such a success, it expanded into Fat Bear Week, said Kraft, who is Katmai’s interpretation and education program manager.
In other words, it’s the pawfect distraction from everything in life right now and gives us a chance to appreciate the wonderful nature offered by southern Alaska.
So, you may be wondering, “How exactly does this contest work?” It’s simple.
The participating bears are matched against each other in a “March Madness” style competition (single-elimination), where online visitors can vote for “Fat Bear Week 2021 Champion.”
In the end, the last two very fat bears will face off for the title of “Fattest Bear” which takes place on (yup, you guessed it) Fat Bear Tuesday.
The bear matchups will be open for voting between 12 – 9 p.m. ET (9 a.m. – 6 p.m. PT).
“All bears are winners but only one true champion will emerge,” NPS said.
Where the park is located, according to NPS, is a “wild region” — having the “largest, healthiest runs of sockeye salmon left on the planet.”
Last year’s Fat Bear Week winner, Bear 747, is in the competition this year. In September 2020, he weighed an estimated 1,400 pounds — and he’s at least that big this year, according to Explore.org.
Far Bear Week takes place from Sept. 29 to Oct. 5.