Your oasis of joy for 2021 has arrived. It's Fat Bear Week, and that means it's time to revel in views of chunky, hunky brown bears while helping to choose a winner. Only the plumpest and paunchiest bear will emerge victorious. Your vote matters.
Fat Bear Week is a joint effort from Katmai National Park & Preserve in Alaska and nature livecam site Explore.org. It raises awareness of the park's bears and celebrates how they gorge on salmon and pack on the pounds to survive their winter hibernation.
This year's contest runs from Wednesday through Oct. 5. You can vote on the Fat Bear Week site in the head-to-head (or bulge-to-bulge) matchups. Voting stays open between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. PT each day.
You can choose your champ based simply on which bear looks the fattest, or you can take into account other factors, like how mother bears must feed themselves and their cubs and therefore might not get as chonky as some of the other bears.
Wednesday's vote pits 2019 champion 435 Holly, the "Queen of Corpulence," against 128 Grazer, "the dominant doyen of the falls." The second matchup is between "husky hunk" 634 Popeye and the bountifully bellied 151 Walker. Before and after photos show just how much bulk each bear has put on during the year.
Not to sway your vote, but both Grazer and Walker look fantastically plump this year. Be sure to read the bear bios to learn about their backgrounds and identify your favorites from among the competitors. For live views of the beasties getting their salmon feasties, check out Explore.org's Brooks River livestreams.
, known to his adoring fans as "Bear Force One." He's back again and ready to battle for his crown with an estimated weight of more than 1,400 pounds (635 kilograms).
Every pound of pudge matters when it comes to the long winter ahead. Though one bear will reign supreme at the end of the week, every fat bear is already a winner.