Deep within the heart of Katmai National Park, there's an event so wild it makes a grizzly's heart skip a beat and a cub's stomach rumble with anticipation.

I'm talking about the one and only Fat Bear Week, where the forest's fluffiest contenders go belly-to-belly in a tournament that even Sumo wrestlers would envy.

It's a competition where all bears are winners, but only one gets to wear the crown, or in this case, the extra layers of glorious blubber.

Why Is Fat Bear Week So Fabulous?

Fat Bear Week revolves around the fact that fat is phat in the bear world.

As winter approaches and hibernation season looms, these furry connoisseurs of coziness head to their dens.

Once inside, they declare, "I solemnly swear not to eat or drink until spring." It's a six-month sabbatical of snacking abstinence.

They can shed up to a third of their body weight during this time.

How To Watch Bears

In Katmai, the bears flock to the annual salmon smorgasbord from late June through September.

Salmon, which Katmai locals lovingly refer to as "bear fast food," has been the area's primary food delivery system for ages.

And guess what... You can watch them!!! Click Here

The Bare Necessities of Fat Bear Week

So, how does this whole belly-busting bonanza work?

Park rangers set up a bracket-style competition, throwing individual bears into the ring, paws and all.

The public then dons their virtual referee jerseys and votes to decide which bear advances in each round.

The voting takes place over several days on the official Fat Bear Week website (

Fat Bear Bracket

Welcome to Fat Bear Week 2023

This year's Fat Bear Week extravaganza kicks off on October 4 and waddles its way to the grand finale on Fat Bear Tuesday, October 10.

In addition to the heated voting rounds, you're invited to join a series of online chats on

These chats feature the wise musings of Mike Fitz,'s resident naturalist, and the intrepid rangers of Katmai.

Meet the Chunky Contenders Here

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Grizzly Bear Attacks and Kills Young Bison, Yellowstone National Park

Gallery Credit: Tammie Toren

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