2021’s Best Fat Bears, Ranked

132’s spring cub.
Photo: National Park Service/Explore.org

The most wonderful time of the year is back, baby. On Wednesday, the National Park Service will kick off its annual Fat Bear Week competition.

The agency whetted our appetite for ursa chonkus with Fat Bear Junior Week, but now the most rotund bears of the Brooks River are ready to battle it out. The contest is held each year to honor bears who have gorged on sockeye salmon and other delicacies in preparation for hibernation. Katmai National Park and Preserve coupled with explore.org let the people vote on a dozen of the portliest bears in a bracket-style tournament. Last year, more than 600,000 voted on the bracket.

The bear brackets have been set. The tourney starts tomorrow. Yes, all fat bears are good. But some fat bears are the best. Here’s who I think should be in the top five this year, based on cuteness, charisma, and, most importantly, fatness. This is a definitive and highly rigorous ranking. If you would like to win your, what I can imagine, very competitive office pool, take heed of this vital resource.

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