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Will Fat Bear Week be a victim of a government shutdown?

Answer: Unfortunately.

One of fall’s popular Internet attractions may fall victim (pun intended) to a government shutdown if one occurs this weekend. Every year, Katmai National Park and Preserve in Alaska hosts Fat Bear Week in which you can watch livestreams of the park’s bears fattening up for winter and vote for a champion fat bear. Not only is Fat Bear Week incredibly popular for its fun and entertainment value, it’s also a good education resource for people to learn more about bears and how they live.

Fat Bear Week 2023 is scheduled to start Oct. 4, but as of Thursday the government was headed toward a shutdown on Oct. 1. If that happens, only essential government services will be allowed to continue to operate. Updating websites and social media accounts is considered nonessential, so the National Park Service employees who curate and post Fat Bear Week content online will be unable to do so.

The one silver lining to this true travesty is that the voting for Fat Bear Week is hosted by an outside website, so they may continue to post. It’s unclear at this point if they will continue with the competition without the government’s support. After all, as ABC’s Stephanie Ebbs put it, “if the national park can’t tweet about Fat Bear Week, is it even Fat Bear Week?”