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Fat Bear Week Is Saved at the 11th Hour

The social media sensation is back, thanks to bipartisanship.

A brown bear.
Heatmap Illustration/Getty Images

Over the weekend, Congress (temporarily) got its act together and passed a 45-day stopgap bill to avoid a government shutdown. Federal agencies will remain open, and the deal even includes an additional $16 billion in federal disaster assistance.

This is all well and good, but one thing is especially important: the National Park Service is funded, which means the employees of Katmai National Park and Preserve in Alaska will be going to work this week, which means Fat Bear Week is continuing as planned.

Fat Bear Week is, rightly, a sensation. More than one million people voted in last year's contest, which was briefly rocked by revelations of vote-stuffing before a bear nicknamed 747 was crowned the winner:

Fat Bear Week is run by national park employees, however, and a spokesperson told the AP that a shutdown would have meant a change in schedule. If a delay went on for too long, the bears could have gone into hibernation before voting began.

But! Fear not. Thanks to a rare (dare I say heroic?) showing of bipartisanship in the House, Fat Bear Week begins as planned on Wednesday, October 4, and ends next Tuesday, October 10 — Fat Bear Tuesday. You can cast your vote on the Fat Bear Week website:

Neel Dhanesha profile image

Neel Dhanesha

Neel is a former founding staff writer at Heatmap. Prior to Heatmap, he was a science and climate reporter at Vox, an editorial fellow at Audubon magazine, and an assistant producer at Radiolab, where he helped produce The Other Latif, a series about one detainee's journey to Guantanamo Bay. He is a graduate of the Literary Reportage program at NYU, which helped him turn incoherent scribbles into readable stories, and he grew up (mostly) in Bangalore. He tweets sporadically at @neel_dhan.


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