Fat Bear Week 2023 is here – vote for the Champion of Chonk now

Bears at Brooks Falls, Katmai National Park and Preserve, Alaska
Voting is open for the next seven days in a celebration of Katmai National Park's bear-friendly ecosystem (Image credit: Rebecca Harding)

Tell your boss you're sick – it's time to get your fat bear bracket in order. Wildlife viewers' most anticipated event of the year has begun with voting opening at 9 a.m. Pacific today for the fattest grizzly bear in Katmai National Park.

Fat Bear Week is a fun and wildlife-positive event that has attracted millions of fans around the globe. The first Fat Bear Week was held back in 2014, a quirky event that is a celebration of Katmai's healthy, bear friendly eco system. The Alaska National Park is one of the best brown (grizzly) bear viewing areas in the world with well over 2,000 bears and some of the highest bear densities ever recorded.

What's so great about a fat bear?

Right now, the salmon are jumping in the Brooks River and the time is ripe for Katmai's Ursidaes to fatten up. Soon, they'll go into torpor for the winter, which is a near-hibernation state where they'll spend most of their time sleeping. During this time, the bears will lose about one third of their body weight, so the fatter they can get in the fall, the greater their chances of survival.

Brown Bear Cubs at Hallo Bay in Alaska

Katmai is one of the best brown (grizzly) bear viewing areas in the world (Image credit: Roger Tidman)

How does Fat Bear Week work?

Basically, Fat Bear Week is a tournament style bracket put together by park rangers pitting individual bears against each other. You can head to Explore.org and vote for the bear you want to advance each round. Voting is open through Fat Bear Tuesday on October 10. At the end, only one portly grizzly will reign supreme.

Anything else I need to know?

Yep. In addition to voting for the champion of chonk, you can watch 24-hour live footage of the bears in the park, year-round. Just head to Explore's Live Cam page to admire these burly beasts in all their glory. Like we said, you're going to want to call in sick.

Julia Clarke

Julia Clarke is a staff writer for Advnture.com and the author of the book Restorative Yoga for Beginners. She loves to explore mountains on foot, bike, skis and belay and then recover on the the yoga mat. Julia graduated with a degree in journalism in 2004 and spent eight years working as a radio presenter in Kansas City, Vermont, Boston and New York City before discovering the joys of the Rocky Mountains. She then detoured west to Colorado and enjoyed 11 years teaching yoga in Vail before returning to her hometown of Glasgow, Scotland in 2020 to focus on family and writing.