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The Most Important Annual Celebration, Fat Bear Week, Is Finally Here

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Although the global pandemic, the upcoming presidential election, and the ongoing climate crisis have probably taken a massive toll on your overall well-being, we have good news. The greatest holiday of the year, Fat Bear Week, officially begins on Wednesday, Sept. 30. In the days leading up to hibernation season, Explore.org showcases a number of especially well-fed bears from Katmai National Park in Alaska, and fans get the chance to vote on the greatest — and the most rotund — bear of the bunch.

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Keep reading for all-things Fat Bear Week, including information on how you can cast your vote, a run-down on the competition's 2020 contestants, and an explanation on why the holiday is so important to nature enthusiasts across the globe.

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What is Fat Bear Week? It's one of the greatest nature-centric holidays of the year.

As previously mentioned, Fat Bear Week is one of the most pivotal environmental holidays in the U.S. According to Explore.Org, it's an annual tournament that lasts from Sept. 30 to Oct. 6, celebrating the well-fed bears at Brooks River in Katmai National Park in Southern Alaska. A different set of fat bears are showcased on the site daily from noon to 10 p.m. ET, and voters are required to pick the fattest one. 

The competition is single-elimination, which means that of the two set of bears, the one with the most votes advances to the next "round," while the loser is ultimately eliminated from the competition. At the end of the week, the fattest bear of the bunch will officially be crowned "champion" of Fat Bear Week, which awards them with social media fame, and some serious street 'cred.

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Explore has already posted a bracket, showing off each of the 2020 contestants, Although determining the fattest bear of the bunch can be somewhat tricky, it's easy to vote and it's also a fun way to drop what you're doing, and simply enjoy the site of some happy, well-fed wild animals.

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Why is Fat Bear Week so important? It shows off the well-being of Katmai's ecosystem.

Although it's been proven that looking at cute animals is invaluable for your mental health, Fat Bear Week is vital because it shows that the wildlife at Katmai National Park is thriving. When bears hibernate for months at a time, they run the risk of starving if they aren't well-fed prior their annual several-month-long retreat. Therefore, getting extremely fat is actually necessary to their survival.

The beloved brown bears in Katmai National Park mostly engorge themselves on salmon in the Brooks River, starting at the end of June through the middle of October. Fat Bear Week not only shows off the bear's hunting capabilities, but it also shows the salmon population is doing well, which therefore means the food they eat is healthy, as well. 

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The competition shows that the eco-system as a whole in the Alaskan National Park is generally thriving, which is what environmentalists and nature enthusiasts like to hear. And after you've voted, the best part of Fat Bear Week is tuning into the live stream, to watch the bears and salmon in action. Although travel isn't entirely possible this year, it'll make you feel like you're one with nature, regardless of where you are.

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With Fat Bear Week in full swing, we'll be busy distracting ourselves from the chaotic world of politics and the state of our climate with adorable bears preparing for hibernation for the next few days... don't mind us.

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