Get ready because Fat Bear Week is almost here again
The public can vote to crown this year's ultimate Fat Bear © N8tureGrl via Getty Images
It's time to cast your vote in one of our favorite yearly competitions, the race to crown this year's ultimate Fat Bear at Katmai National Park & Preserve in Alaska. A dozen portly brown bears are battling it out in the heavyweight competition during Fat Bear Week, which runs from September 30 to October 6.
The Katmai bears have been piling it on by eating a full year’s worth of food over the past six months to ensure their survival during winter hibernation. During this time, they will not eat or drink and will lose one-third of their body weight, so their survival depends on accumulating ample fat reserves before entering the den. They gorge on the richest, most easily obtainable foods they can find, which most often means sockeye salmon at Brooks Falls.
In 2019, Holly the bear was crowned the winner and must defend her title this year, but she is up against stiff competition, including two-time champion Otis. The bears all face individual challenges. Adult males need to grow large to dominate the best fishing spots and secure mating opportunities, and females need to support the birth and growth of cubs. Cubs undergo tremendous growth spurts, and juvenile bears living on their own must find food without their mothers' guidance.
The brown bears fish for sockeye salmon at Brooks Falls © oksana.perkins/Shutterstock
The Fat Bear Week competition is a single elimination tournament where voters choose between pairings of bears. The grizzly with the most votes advances until one is crowned the winner. You can cast your vote for the 2020 king or queen of corpulence here.