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 March-Madness style bracket where bears are pitted against each other for your vote.
Why fat matters
From its humble beginnings of Fat Bear Tuesday in 2014 to nearly 800,000 votes cast last year in 2021, celebrating fat bears and Katmai's healthy ecosystem has since become a tradition. For bears, fat equals survival. Each winter, bears enter the den where they will not eat or drink until they emerge in spring. During this time, they may lose up to one-third of their body weight as they rely solely on their fat reserves. Survival depends on eating a year's worth of food in six months.
How it works
Rangers create a March-Madness style bracket pitting individual bears against each other. The public then votes to see who will advance each round. Voting takes place over several days on explore.org's website. People may vote using any criteria they see fit. In the end, one bear will reign supreme.
This year, Fat Bear Week starts September 29 and concludes on Fat Bear Tuesday, October 5. In addition to voting during this week-long tournament, there will be a series of online chats on explore.org featuring Mike Fitz, explore.org's resident naturalist, and rangers from Katmai to learn more about the individual bears and Katmai's healthy ecosystem. Throughout the season, you can also tune in to the explore.org bear cams which offer unprecedented access to the lives the bears of Brooks River. There are also special live events on a variety of topics hosted weekly as well.
Fat Bear Junior!
And new this year: the FAT BEAR JUNIOR competition, September 23 and 24. Mark your calendars when four chubby cubbies compete for the chance to advance to the main bracket and compete against the more senior burly bears of the Brooks River.
Fat Bear Week in the Classroom
Last updated: October 6, 2021