You can now cast your vote for the tubbiest animal in Katmai National Park's annual Fat Bear Week (opens in new tab). The park's brown bears have spent the summer fattening themselves up on sockeye salmon, and the more pounds they manage to pile on, the better their chances of making it through the harsh Alaskan winter. To celebrate their accomplishments, each year the park's rangers hold a contest, inviting animal enthusiasts to cast their vote for the bear that's gained the most weight.
Voting began on October 5, and continues until October 11 (Fat Bear Tuesday). Each day, two pairs of bears are pitted against each other, and the public can vote using any criteria they see fit starting at 9am Pacific / 12pm Eastern. Voting takes place in rounds, with the winners going through to the next series of votes until the champion Fat Bear is decided
On October 11, there will also be a live chat at 4pm Pacific / 7pm Eastern with Mike Fitz, explore.org's resident naturalist, and rangers from Katmai.
Patience pays off
Katmai is well known for its population of around 2,200 brown bears, which feed on salmon migrating upstream to spawn from June to September. Last year's winning bear, Otis, is back in the running, but it's expected that 2020's champion, Bear 747, may give him a run for his money.
"[Otis] goes to his spot, he sits there, he waits for his meals to come to him, and it is a very successful strategy," said Fitz. "He's the most patient bear that I have ever seen."
Once you've cast your vote, you can also watch the bears on Katmai's livestream (opens in new tab) as they finish their preparations for hibernation.
Cat is the editor of Advnture, She’s been a journalist for 13 years, and was fitness and wellbeing editor on TechRadar before joining the Advnture team in 2022. She’s a UK Athletics qualified run leader, and in her spare time enjoys nothing more than lacing up her shoes and hitting the roads and trails (the muddier, the better).
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