This week marks the start of "Fat Bear Week," where hundreds of thousands of people bet on which bears in an Alaskan national park will gain the most weight

Sep 29th

We're all familiar with "Shark Week," that perennial programming block on the Discovery Channel that features an intensive lineup of shark-related television shows and documentaries.

But did you know about "Fat Bear Week?" It's a weeklong event focused on—and you may have guessed this—really fat bears:

The arrival of Fat Bear Week marks a joyous occasion on the internet. It's a welcome distraction from life's woes. It's a time to appreciate nature, even though the nature you're appreciating is thousands of miles away in one of the most difficult national parks to reach in the United States.

You may be asking yourself, "What is Fat Bear Week, anyway?" It's a single-elimination tournament from Sept. 29 to Oct. 5 between brown bears in Katmai National Park and Preserve that are fattening up for winter. The last two beefy contenders battle in the finals (on the internet, not real life) for the title of Fattest Bear on Fat Bear Tuesday.

Fans can vote every day between 12 p.m. and 9 p.m. Eastern time to determine which bears at the Brooks River have done the best job feasting on sockeye salmon.

That sounds like fun, but it's hard to imagine who would be more miffed by this whole fanfare: The bears struggling to gain enough weight to survive for the winter, or the salmon being devoured alive by the bears. This is deadly serious business for both of them, after all.

If you want to take a look at the fat bears gorging themselves on Alaskan salmon, here's a livestream "Bear Cam" of a feeding ground:

May the best bear win!


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