This National Park Has An Annual Fat Bear Contest And I Am In Love

The United States has a total of 61 national parks, many of which we can all name just off the top of our heads: Yosemite, Grand Canyon, Yellowstone, Mount Rainier, Zion, Joshua Tree, and I’m sure a lot of others people will be sure to tell me I forgot in the comments. But today I want to focus on a park that gets a little less attention than the rest, probably because it’s a lot farther away. Katmai National Park is a place I have never heard of until today, maybe because I’m Canadian, possibly because I’m just late to the party, maybe a little bit of column A and column B. Katmai is located in the great state of Alaska, and it is GORGEOUS.

Like STUPID GORGEOUS.

And, as you can see, there are a lot of bears.

All of the national parks are amazing in their own way and I don’t think it’s fair to rank them or pick favorites, but with that said, Katmai is now definitely my favorite and I would argue the number one park in all of the United States — for one very good reason.

Each year, they hold a FAT BEAR CONTEST.

Yeah. One more time — Katmai National Park holds annual

FAT. BEAR. CONTESTS.

FAT!! BEAR!! WEEK!!

The premise is very simple. The bears in the park are numbered, named, and monitored by parks employees. Each year when they wake up from hibernation they are understandably quite thin and small (for bears, that is), and each autumn when they’re getting ready to hibernate again they are (hopefully) giant fluffy chonks. The bears are photographed in the summer and in the autumn, the before and after photos are compared and posted online by the Katmai Parks social media accounts, and the people vote on who is the best fat bear.

THERE ARE BRACKETS AND EVERYTHING.

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Meet some of the contenders.

Bear 480, Otis

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Oh my god

Bear 775, Lefty

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HE THICK

Bear 402

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BONUS POINTS FOR THICK BABY

Bear 128, Grazer

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The fluff!!!! The FLUFF!!!!!!!

Bear 747

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Omg omg omg

Bear 909

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Look at that rump

But of course, there can only be one winner. And her name is Holly, and she is glorious.

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OH LAWD.

She definitely deserved to take home the W. In my opinion though, they’re all winners.


NOTES FROM SLOANE

Fat bears can only happen in healthy ecosystems with lots of food and clean water, so to help keep these areas and the environment protected for bears and everything else that lives on this earth (like humans), donate to the National Parks Service or other organizations like The Conservation Fund.