Fat Bear Week 2019 has arrived, and the fifth-annual event includes live feeds of bears fishing for salmon in an Alaska river, plus a bracketed competition.
If you’re missing the Big Brother live feeds, watching these bears live (scroll down to see them) will be an excellent substitute, though, of course, the bears are probably going to be be more civil and intelligent than what you’re used to watching.
It’s a project of the Katmai National Park and Preserve and the Katami Conservancy, and exists for people “to celebrate the ‘gains’ in pounds individuals bears have made in preparation for winter hibernation,” according to the park’s web site.
Starting today, the park will post photos of bears to Facebook, and the ones with the most likes will advance in the tournament.
While the guessing game is for fun, the park service conducts 3D scans of bears to document the bears’ weight gain before winter hibernation. And these cute fat bears are also connected to our behavior as humans: “fat bears only exist because of clean water and a healthy ecosystem,” the park says in a “friendly reminder.”
Watch bears, live from Alaska
About 2,200 bears live in Katami National Park, which is just north of Kodiak Island on the Alaskan peninsula. Many of those bears gather at Brooks Falls to catch salmon and fatten up for winter.
The National Park Service offers a free Bears of Brooks River e-book, which includes general information about its inhabitants and identification of specific bears.
The park’s site notes that, “[a]s many bear populations around the world decline, Katmai provides some of the few remaining unaltered habitats for these amazing creatures. At Katmai, scientists are able to study bears in their natural habitat, visitors are able to enjoy unparalleled viewing opportunities, and the bears are able to continue their life cycle largely undisturbed.”
To join in the bear fun, BBC America is broadcasting “a 24-hour bear-a-thon” this Saturday, starting at 6 a.m. ET, and its “bear-centric programming will include The Polar Bear Family and Me, Great Bear Stakeout, Wild Alaska, Yellowstone and the network’s premiere of Nature’s Great Events: The Great Salmon Run,” according to the network, which says the marathon will also include episodes of Planet Earth, Planet Earth II, and Frozen Planet.
But for now, watch bears live—or, if it’s not daytime, see highlights of the live feeds.