News Release

Brown Bears Beef Up: Fat Bear Week 2023 Is About to Begin

A large brown bear, bear 747, stands in a rushing river.
This year’s Fat Bear Week will be held October 4 – 10. Photo by Felicia Jimenez, NPS.

NPS Photo/F. Jimenez

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News Release Date: September 21, 2023

KING SALMON, Alaska – Fat Bear Week returns to Katmai National Park & Preserve this October 4 – 10, and we need your help to crown the fattest bear! The brown bears of Brooks River have spent the summer fattening up to survive winter hibernation…and to be contenders for the title of “Fat Bear Week 2023 Champion.”  


Fat Bear Week is a global tournament-style bracket competition in which the public votes for their favorite fattest bear. The National Park Service launched Fat Bear Week in 2014, when it was simply Fat Bear Tuesday, with the goal of celebrating the Brooks River brown bears at Katmai and its healthy and remarkable ecosystem. It was so successful that it expanded to Fat Bear Week the following year.  


Fat Bear Week highlights the accomplishments of these burly bruins and shines a spotlight on the healthy ecosystem in which they can thrive. The Brooks River is part of the Bristol Bay watershed, one of the last great salmon runs left on earth. Without the pristine Brooks River ecosystem to support an abundant salmon run, there would be no Fat Bear champions.  


How to participate:  

  • Sept. 28 & 29: Cast your votes for Fat Bear Junior at  

  • Oct. 2: You can start filling out your brackets when the head-to-head matchups are announced during a live chat.  

  • Oct. 4 – 10: Cast your votes throughout the week at  

  • October 10: We will crown 2023's Fat Bear Week Champion and give them a hero's send off into hibernation.  


In 2022, over one million votes were cast all over the world from classrooms, offices (don’t tell the boss), homes and even bars. The ursine competitors range from behemoth boars to multitasking moms to tempestuous teenagers. Even cubs have their own competition, Fat Bear Junior, which is held September 28 & 29. Winning Fat Bear Junior is no small feat, and the winner moves on to compete with the big bears in main Fat Bear Week bracket.  


 Since 2014, Katmai National Park & Preserve has awarded the Fat Bear crown to bears such as:  

  • 747, two-time winner and reigning champion  

  • 480 Otis, four-time champ and fan favorite  

  • 435 Holly, renowned for her maternal instincts and her ability to balloon up each fall  

  • 409 Beadnose, another sow (a female bear) who proves that you don’t have to be a big boy to win   


And what do the winners get? Six months of restful solitude. But the real winners are all the healthy bears and all those who participate in the web’s favorite week of the year.  


From June through October, ten million people follow the stories of the Brooks River bears via eight live-streaming cameras on Check out the live cams if you want to learn more about the lives of these bears. This competition is brought to you through the partnership of Katmai National Park & Preserve, and the Katmai Conservancy.

Last updated: September 21, 2023

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