Fat Bear Week’s Bracket Celebrates Chonky Grizzly Bears

Alaska’s Katmai National Park is the place to be this week if you’re a grizzly bear. Brooks Falls is the perfect spot to gorge on salmon spawning upriver. Thankfully, there’s a livestream so we can all watch this annual spectacle while safe at home. You can also vote for your favorite fat bear in a single-elimination bracket. Though this competition is more like a celebration. Fat bears mean healthy bears prepping for hibernation. Check out the park’s site to vote. There’s a different matchup every day between October 5-11, 2022 before the chonkiest bear is crowned this year’s winner. 

You can see before and after pictures of each bear on the national park’s website. There’s sliders set up to compare photos from just a few months ago, before the salmon buffet began, and they are all much skinnier. There’s also backstory info about each competitor, including the young bears that faced off in the Fat Bear Junior bracket a few weeks ago. The winner of that, known as 909’s Yearling, earned her spot in the main tournament.  

So which chonky competitor will you vote for? Like many elections, this is mostly a popularity contest. No awards are given for the bear that actually weighs the most or the one who gains the most weight this season. Whether it’s their backstory, name, or fishing technique that sways you, you have plenty to go on. Some of this year’s bears are past champions, while others are new to the mix.

A grizzly bear sits in a river eating a salmon
Katmai National Park and Preserve

Personally, I am quite scared of bears. But I still recommend checking out the livestream above even if you are too. Watching these fat bears living their best life in Alaska is inspiring.

Melissa is Nerdist’s science & technology staff writer. She also moderates “science of” panels at conventions and co-hosts Star Warsologies, a podcast about science and Star Wars. Follow her on Twitter @melissatruth. 

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