Introducing…Animal March Madness!

We’re putting the choice for the Next Big Animal in your hands. This is going to be the most adorable tournament of all time.

Here at BuzzFeed Animals, we take crowning your animal kings and queens very seriously. Whether it’s declaring that corgis are the best dogs on the block (don’t tell anyone, but French bulldogs are next), or campaigning last autumn for hedgehogs to be the next big thing; we know that you trust our expert opinion when it comes to making cuteness selections.

Which is why it’s difficult for us to take such an important decision out of our own hands, but here we are: The next big animal is up to you.

Using highly scientific methods, we have determined the top 16 contenders for the top place in our hearts. Animals who have already been the big thing are excluded (this included cats, dogs, owls, pandas, dolphins, penguins, sloths, and, of course, hedgehogs) in order to give someone new a shot. Four brackets arose: America, Australia, Big Dudes, and a Grab Bag of weirdness. And the animals were seeded based on the cuteness of their little faces and the general feeling in the room when their name was mentioned.

Are you ready to see the bracket?

Are you sure?

Fully prepared?

OK, scroll down.

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Here’s the bracket!

Justine Zwiebel

ID: 952225

Yep, definitely the cutest tournament of all time.

The rest is up to you. In the coming days, our finest writers will be laying out the arguments for each animal in every matchup, and after viewing those posts you will have a chance to vote in several different ways on every single bout. Your vote matters! These votes will determine who will end up in the second round, and the tournament will progress, each level more adorable than the last, until a champion can be crowned.

Once an animal becomes THE NEXT BIG ANIMAL as determined by the people, we will celebrate its glory with posts, videos, propaganda, and confetti.

To review, your round one match-ups are…

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Quokkas (1) versus Cockatiels (4)

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Sugar Gliders (2) versus Wombats (3)

ID: 952537

Otters (1) versus Lambs (4)

ID: 952547

Alpacas (2) versus Raccoons (3)

ID: 952548

Polar Bears (1) versus Walruses (4)

ID: 952549

Elephants (2) versus Giraffes (3)

ID: 952574

Red Pandas (1) versus Chameleons (4)

ID: 952568

Foxes (2) versus Armadillos (3)

ID: 952571

May the best animal win!

Wait, all animals are the best…

May your favorite animal win!

Keep track of all the matchups and updates right here.

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Update, 3/11/2013:

Four bouts are completed so far, and four animals are advancing to the next round of the competition: Congratulations to Red Pandas, Quokkas, Otters, and Walruses!

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