Michal napping amonst flowering trees at Muritz

March Napness 2024

The Sleepiest Bear Competition is Back


Who will be crowned the Champion of Sleep?

We are excited to launch the 2nd Annual March Napness bracket competition!  Based off March Madness, the college basketball bracket tournament which celebrates human athletes, we want to celebrate our bear athletes: The masters of sleep! 

23 bears from our sanctuaries around the globe participate in the most epic (sleepy)head-to-(sleepy)head battle. The rules are simple, whoever sleeps the longest, wins!

Starting March 1, you can follow along each week as we track which bears wake up from their hibernation, until we are left with our newest champion, the aptly named "Sleepiest Bear" of 2024. Read the latest update here!

Bear Mark from BEAR SANCTUARY Arbesbach is featured in People Magazine! You can read the the story about Mark's rookie hibernation season here season and see all of our March Napness press coverage here. 

FOUR PAWS houses over 100 rescued bears throughout its 6 bear sanctuaries across the globe. The coolest thing about these bears is that even though they may have been born in captivity, they can still learn to hibernate when given the proper accommodations. And like clockwork, every spring, our bears arise from their winter nap: A miracle of science and the ultimate extreme sport!

Note: Any advertisements that may appear during the viewing of this video are unrelated to FOUR PAWS. We assume no liability for this content.

Test your knowledge of winter slumber!

Bracket of 24 bears competing in the March Napness Competition

How to Participate

If you want to play along at home, you can download your own March Napness Bracket or you can fill in our interactive bracket here.

Fill in your interactive bracket!

Then, be sure to follow our social media channels and share your predictions for who will win the title of "Sleepiest Bear"! 

We'll be sharing all the latest updates on social media, and you will also have the opportunity to participate in our March Napness prediction polls. 

Weekly updates!

Stay tuned for the weekly updates from all the sanctuaries regarding our sleepy bears. 

Week 6 Update, April 9

Who woke up this week?  

*Jeta, BEAR SANCTUARY Belitsa 

*Laska, BEAR SANCTUARY Domazhyr 

*Masha, BEAR SANCTUARY Domazhyr 

Big news this week: We have our final four! Congrats to Tyson, Sam, Jamila, and Dushi for making it to the March Napness semi-finals! 

Here’s how all the sleepy action went down:  

Laska and Masha, both the female competitors at BEAR SANCTUARY Domazhyr, decided they’d caught enough zzzz’s, and they officially awoke. This makes bear Tyson the Ukrainian champ for 2024!   

The Bulgarian champion, bear Jeta, also decided she’d had enough rest, which means that all the competitors from BEAR SANCTUARY Belitsa are now enjoying their springtime snacks and sun.  

Partners Sam and Jamila are still snoozing it out for the Swiss crown at Arosa Bear Sanctuary. And though Dushi has emerged a few times from her den at BEAR SANCUTARY Müritz, it seems she’s hit the snooze button and returned to her cozy quarters to get some more rest before officially awakening for spring.  

Which of the Final Four do you think has the sleepy stuff to snooze all the way to the finals? Share your predictions with us on social media and be sure to follow us for behind-the-scenes photos and videos from the competition! 

Week 5 update, April 2

Who woke up this week?  

*Svetla, BEAR SANCTUARY Belitsa 

*Hana, BEAR SANCTUARY Prishtina 

*Ero, BEAR SANCTUARY Prishtina 

*Ari, BEAR SANCTUARY Prishtina 

The first week of April brings some undeniable signs of spring: daffodils in bloom, the temperatures are rising, and more bears are awakening in our March Napness competition! 

The bears were full of surprises this week: at BEAR SANCTUARY Belitsa, last year’s Bulgarian champ, senior bear Svetla awoke, which means bear Jeta has officially slept her way to the Bulgarian crown and secured her spot in the semi-finals.  

And another potential bracket buster in Kosovo, as the Prishtina crew seemed to make a sleepy pact with all three remaining bears, Hana, Ero, and Ari, awakening together. Ari was the 2023 March Napness runner up, but it seems he didn’t have the sleepy stuff to go all the way in 2024. Even though the Prishtina bears are no longer in the running for the title, we love the camaraderie and teamwork displayed in their sleepy move of solidarity! 

Meanwhile, all the Domazhyr bears are still in the sleepy hunt for the title, the Muritz champ, Dushi, snoozes on, and partners Sam and Jamila are still sleeping it out for the Swiss title at Arosa Bear Sanctuary 

Who do you think will be the next to wake up and who will sleep all the way the 2024 championship? Share your predictions with us on our social media channels. And it’s not too late to late to fill in your own March Napness bracket!  

Week 4 update, March 26

Who woke up this week?

*Michal, BEAR SANCUTARY Müritz

*Amelia, Arosa Bear Sanctuary

*Meimo, Arosa Bear Sanctuary

*Ema, BEAR SANCTUARY Prishtina

It’s week 4 of March Napness, and the bears did not disappoint! In a real bracket buster, last years’ Arosa Bear Sanctuary champs, Amelia & Meimo, called it quits this week. In 2023, the duo outslept fellow Arosa competitors Sam and Jamila by several weeks, so this is a major surprise in the competition! Now the dark horses (er, dark bears?) Sam and Jamila, are napping head-to-head (literally, as they share the same sleeping quarters) for the Swiss Championship.

In other big news, bear Michal awoke at BEAR SANCUTARY Müritz, (Michal is the beautiful bear sleeping amongst the flowers who graces our March Napness website banner). This means bear Dushi wins the ‘Sleepiest Bear’ title in Germany! Dushi is also the first bear to make it to the semi-finals for the whole March Napness competition. Will this sweet, lovable bear snooze all the way to the winner’s circle?

At BEAR SANCTUARY Prishtina in Kosovo, rookie competitor Ema has also decided to awaken after her long rest. Fellow Prishtina nappers Ari, Ero, and Hana are now one step closer to the Kosovo crown.

In Bulgaria, bears Jeta and Svetla are still sleeping strong at BEAR SANCTUARY Belitsa. And In Ukraine, all 3 bears remain fast asleep. This makes BEAR SANCTUARY Domazhyr the only sanctuary where all the first-round competitors still remain.

Who do you think will be the next to wake up? Will there be a Cinderella story that no one saw coming? Stay tuned to our social media channels for all the latest updates in March Napness 2024!

Week 3 Update, March 19

Who woke up this week?

* Sylvia, BEAR SANCUTARY Müritz

* Dasha & Lelya, BEAR SANCUTARY Müritz

* Marinka, BEAR SANCTUARY Belitsa

* Dana, BEAR SANCTUARY Belitsa

Week 3 of March Napness brought a lot of action from our bear sanctuaries: 4 bears woke up this week! At BEAR SANCUTARY Müritz, Sylvia awoke, as did sisters Dasha & Lelya, who were competing as a team. This puts bears Michal and Dushi into a (very sleepy) race for the German championship at Müritz.

At BEAR SANCTUARY Belitsa in Bulgaria, both Dana and Marinka decided they were ready to rise and shine, which places bears Jeta and Svetla in a snoring battle for the Bulgarian crown!

This sets up some interesting quarter-final showdowns! Svelta is the oldest bear in the competition at age 34, and she is also Belitsa’s reigning sleepiest bear. Will her roommate, Jeta, who is ten years her junior, outsleep the veteran?

Meanwhile, at Müritz, bear Michal, is hoping to nap his way to a higher placement than last year, but bear Dushi, the youngest bear competing from Müritz, is sleeping hot on his heels. Both Dushi and Michal are known as curious, playful bears, and both happen to be terrific tripods! Who will snooze their way to the German title?

Share your predictions with us, and be sure to follow our social media channels for all the latest March Napness updates.

Week 2 Update, March 12

Who woke up this week?

*Mark, BEAR SANCTUARY Arbesbach

Most of our bears have continued to sleep through week 2 of the March Napness competition, but we did have one high-profile bear choose to end his snooze! Mark, the rookie from BEAR SANCTUARY Arbesbach in Austria, decided he was ready to greet the springtime. You can see a video of Mark on our social media which shows the big guy having a snack after his long slumber.

Mark spent the first 20 years of his life in a cage where he was unable to hibernate, but now that he is in a safe, species-appropriate home, this charismatic bear was able to enjoy the first full hibernation of his life. (You can read more about Mark’s story in this People Magazine article.) Even though Mark awoke this week, he did out-sleep his fellow Austrian bears, Erich and Brumca, and thus officially won the Sleepiest Bear of Arbesbach title! Who do you think will be the next bear to wake up? Fill in your own March Napness bracket, and share your predictions with us!

Week 1 Update, March 5

Who woke up this week?

* Brumca, BEAR SANCTUARY Arbesbach

* Erich, BEAR SANCTUARY Arbesbach

Week 1 of March Napness brings some early surprises! Brumca and Erich from BEAR SANCTUARY Arbesbach in Austria are the first to officially wake up this season. This gives Mark an easy victory as the "sleepiest bear" of Arbesbach! Will he go all the way and be crowned the overall winner of the competition? Only time will tell! 

Meanwhile, the rest of our competitors are still locked in a battle of the bedheads, slumbering soundly in their dens. This early in the competition, it is still anyone's guess who will hibernate the longest and come away with the crown! Do you have any predictions on who will sleep their way to victory? Fill in your own interactive bracket or download a version for yourself, and share your predictions on our social media channels!

Meet our 2024 competitors

BEAR SANCTUARY Arbesbach, Austria



Age: 32
Rescued from a Slovakian zoo in 1998.

Fun Fact: Nicknamed "the queen," Brumca 100% deserves this title! She's very particular and knows what she likes—carrots in the wrong place? ‘How dare you?´ Cut the apples the wrong way? ´No thank you!´

Sleepy Stats: This is Brumca’s first year competing.



Rescued from an Austrian animal park in 2015.

Fun Fact: Erich is big and sporty, and known for his “macho-walk.” However, he is a gentle giant who will, for example, flee when a bee flies too close to his head.
Sleepy Stats: Erich was the first bear to awake last spring, during the week of March 7.



Age: 26
Rescued from Albania in 2022, Mark is believed to be Albania’s last “restaurant bear."
Fun Fact: After 20 years in a cage, this is the first full hibernation of Mark’s life!
Sleepy Stats: This is Mark’s first year in the competition.

Arosa Bear Sanctuary, Switzerland



Age: 18
Rescued from a restaurant in Albania along with Meimo in 2019

Fun Fact: Amelia and Meimo live together and even hibernate in the same den. Check out their live web cam here.
Sleepy Stats: Last year, Amelia & Meimo slept their way to the semi-finals, awaking on April 11.



Age: 18
Rescued from a restaurant in Albania along with Amelia in 2019.

Fun Fact: Meimo and Amelia live together and hibernate in the same den, but we’ll see if they wake up at the same time! Check out their live web came here.
Sleepy Stats: Last year, Amelia & Meimo slept their way to the semi-finals, awaking on April 11.



Age: 20
Rescued in 2022 along with his sister Jamila from a zoo in Macedonia.

Fun Fact: Last winter was the first hibernation of Sam’s life! Check out his live web cam here.
Sleepy Stats: Last year, Sam awoke on March 14, a week before his sister.



Age: 20
Rescued in 2022 along with her brother Sam from a zoo in Macedonia.
Fun Fact: Last winter was the first hibernation of Jamila’s life! Check out her live web cam here
Sleepy Stats: Last year, Jamila awoke on March 21, a week after her brother.

BEAR SANCTUARY Belitsa, Bulgaria



Age: 24
Rescued from life as a “selfie bear” for tourists in Albania.

Fun Fact: Jeta lives with fellow competitor, Svetla. She is one of the smallest bears and is deaf. She loves enrichments!

Sleepy Stats: This is Jeta’s first year in the competition.



Age: 34
Rescued from life as a “dancing bear” in Bulgaria in 2007.
Fun Fact: Lives with fellow competitor, Jeta. She loves to lounge and relax.

Sleepy Stats: Last year Svelta awoke from hibernation during the week of April 4. She was Belitsa’s longest sleeper in the March Napness 2023 competition.



Age: 31
Rescued from life as a “dancing bear” in Bulgaria in 2003.

Fun Fact: Dana is a very playful bear who loves to swim. Her favorite food is fish.

Sleepy Stats: This is Dana’s first March Napness competition.



Age: 29
Rescued from life as a “dancing bear” in Bulgaria in 2005.
Fun Fact: Marinka loves enrichments from her caregivers, particularly when they contain her favorite food—nuts!
Sleepy Stats: Marinka competed last year, awaking the week of March 21. 

BEAR SANCTUARY Domazhyr, Ukraine



Age: 13
Rescued from a rundown zoo near Donetsk, Ukraine in 2019.

Fun Fact: Laska loves to explore the forest and spends a lot of time digging!

Sleepy Stats: This is Laska’s first year in the competition; she started hibernating on Nov 8.



Age: 22
Rescued from a hunting station in Western Ukraine in 2017.
Fun Fact: Loves to play with his friend Mashutka, who dug her own hibernation den two years ago, only for lazy Tyson to steal her den and spend the winter there!
Sleepy Stats: This is Tyson’s first year competing; he started hibernating on Nov 18.



Age: 17
Rescued in 2018 from a hunting station where she was used as “bait” to train dogs.
Fun Fact: Masha is very curious and fast, and she loves to play with her friend, Potap.
Sleepy Stats: This is Masha’s first year competing; she started hibernating on Nov 12.

BEAR SANCTUARY Müritz, Germany



Age: 15
Rescued from Albania in 2019 from what was known as “Europe’s Worst Zoo.”

Fun Fact: Dushi is a very picky eater. She loves grapes, apples, carrots, and anything sweet. Cucumbers, Zucchini, turnips or tomatoes are absolutely not appreciated.
Sleepy Stats: This is Dushi's first year in the competition.



Age: 21
Rescued from a Serbian circus in 2017.
Fun Fact: A slightly wary, but spirited bear, Sylvia shares an enclosure with her brother, Pavle. 
Sleepy Stats: 
Last year, Sylvia awoke from hibernation the week of March 21.


Dasha & Lelya

Age: 19
Rescued from Ukraine in 2019 and brought to our BEAR SANCTUARY Domazhyr before their transfer to Müritz.
Fun Fact:
 Lelya tends to be more dominant than her sister Dasha; however, Lelya lets Dasha take the lead in unfamiliar situations.
Sleepy Stats: This is their first year competing.



Age: 21
 Rescued from a zoo in Poland in 2011.
Fun Fact: Michal is a very playful and curious bear. He loves swimming, especially while playing with big branches.

Sleepy Stats: Last year, Michal awoke from hibernation the week of March 21.

BEAR SANCTUARY Prishtina, Kosovo



Age: 21
Rescued in 2013 from a private zoo in Kosovo.
Fun Fact: Ari does not like to swim, but he does like to splash his paws into his pool. He also loves all foods indiscriminately.

Sleepy Stats: Ari was the runner up in last year’s competition, sleeping until April 25.



Age: 10
Rescued in 2014 from a private home in Kosovo.

Fun Fact: Ema is a very talented tree climber, and she loves apples.
Sleepy Stats: This is Ema’s first March Napness competition.



Age: 25
Rescued in 2013 from a private zoo in Kosovo.

Fun Fact: Hana is a small, confident bear, who is known for her expert yoga poses.

Sleepy Stats: This is Hana’s first March Napness competition.



Age: 25
Rescued in 2013 from a private zoo in Kosovo.

Fun Fact: Ero is the largest bear at Prishtina, and he is known as the “napping king” because he sleeps all summer long under the shade of trees.
Sleepy Stats: This is Ero’s first March Napness competition.
2024 March Napness Bracket

2024 March Napness Bracket

Download your own bracket and make your predictions!

Printer Friendly Bracket

Printer Friendly Bracket

Want to print your March Napness bracket? Try this version!

Fill in an interactive bracket here!

Two bears in water

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