America’s most body positive contest nears climax

Deep into a tumultuous and often harrowing year, it will be a relief to many that America has now finally arrived at a cherished annual highlight: fat bear week.

a large brown bear standing next to a body of water: Photograph: National Park Service/Reuters

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Photograph: National Park Service/Reuters

Related: US government issues bear advice: friends don’t let friends get eaten

Voting has begun in – perhaps – this year’s most eagerly anticipated election, where members of the public pick their favorite of the fattened bears now waddling around the Brooks river in Katmai national park, in southern Alaska.

Only one bear will emerge victorious in the knockout elimination contest, which pits 12 plump ursine contenders against each other. Katmai national park calls the contest a “March Madness-style competition”, with the crucial difference that it involves gazing at pictures of podgy bears in the tundra and forests of Alaska rather than cheering on college basketball-playing humans.

a bear that is standing in the snow: Somehow bear 747’s roomy rear end failed to sway voters last year. Photograph: National Park Service/Reuters

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