Annual Fat Bear Week is bearing down upon us

The time is coming. The week all bear enthusiasts have been waiting for. It’s almost Fat Bear Week. 

Fat Bear Week is returning Oct. 4 to 10. The annual event is a tradition out of Katmai National Park where participants can vote on which real bear they think is the fattest in the park. It’s a global, tournament-style bracket competition where participants can cast a vote for the Katmai National Park bear they think best exemplifies fatness. 

Katmai National Park celebrates the brown bears of Brooks River who have spent the summer fattening up on fish, plants, berries and small mammals to help survive winter hibernation. These prolific bears can eat 80 to 90 pounds of food a day in the summer and fall, causing them to gain about three to six pounds of fat each day. 

The following is the participation schedule for the upcoming week: 

  • Oct. 2: Start filling out your brackets when the head-to-head matchups are announced. Brackets are available online. 
  • Oct. 4 – 10: Cast votes throughout the week at   
  • Oct. 10: 2023’s Fat Bear Week Champion will be crowned and given a hero’s send off into hibernation.   

The viral event started in 2014 as a one-day Facebook affair called Fat Bear Tuesday, and then grew to the week-long holiday that it is now in 2015. The goal of the event was and continues to be celebrating the girth of Brooks River brown bears and Katmai’s healthy ecosystems. In 2022 more than one million votes were cast by participants from all over the world. 

The Brooks River is part of the Bristol Bay watershed, and the Brooks River ecosystem supports abundant salmon runs which in turn support the portly bears. Bears are entered into the week-long competition by being photographed by park rangers both at the beginning of the summer and at the end of the summer, so that their weight gain can be documented. 


Eight live-streaming cameras showcase the lives of the Brooks River bears from June through October on More than ten million people visit these live streams.