Brown bear Dushi in a field of flowers at Bear Sanctuary Muritz

March Napness: Snooze And You’ll Miss The Final Four Finale

FOUR PAWS breaks down the winners and snoozers


BOSTON, MA – APRIL 19 2024. The 2024 March Napness competition concludes with a Cinderella story! Week 7 brought the action as the final four bears broke their hibernation in quick succession all on the second week of April.

March Napness, inspired by the popularity of March Madness, is an annual tournament-style bracket competition organized the FOUR PAWS, the global animal welfare organization, where hibernating rescued bears compete for the Sleepiest Bear title. FOUR PAWS cares for over 100 brown bears in seven sanctuaries across the globe. Some of these rescue bears in the six sanctuaries in Europe chose to hibernate and in doing so, they step into the bracket and compete sleepy head to sleepy head.

This year’s competition began with a bang as 23 bears nestled in for their winter rest. After a few eventful weeks, where FOUR PAWS caretakers monitored the bears closely, the competition ended in week 7 when the final four all awoke. This consisted of bears Tyson, Jamila, Sam, and Dushi.

Bear Dushi, a 15-year-old European brown bear rescued from a dilapidated zoo in Albania, clinched the crown by sleeping just a little longer than her three competitors making her 2024 March Napness Champion!  

March Napness serves to highlight FOUR PAWS’ efforts to rescue and protect the world’s “saddest bears.” A large demand for bears in captivity exists globally for their use in bear baiting and hunting, dancing bear performances, tourist attractions, petting or hands-on exhibits among many other cruelties. FOUR PAWS rescues bears from deplorable conditions to ultimately house them in sanctuaries where they are provided with a species-appropriate and most natural environment possible.

The winner for this year has a similar story to all the rescue bears. Dushi was rescued back in 2018 from “Europe’s worst zoo” in Albania. For years she was kept in a tiny and rusted metal cage covered with urine and feces. Now, Dushi is flourishing in her species-appropriate home in FOUR PAWS’ BEAR SANCTUARY Müritz in Germany. This marks the second year in a row that a champion resides at BEAR SANCTUARY Müritz.

FOUR PAWS reports that through March and April, over 1100 people either filled out interactive brackets or chose to download and print them.Thousands of followers took polls, shared Instagram stories, and even created their own bear selfies with the March Napness bear ears Instagram filter. Celebrities and influencers also participated; some by sharing content and others by cheering on their own bracket winner.

FOUR PAWS encourages the public to follow their bears throughout the year as they all celebrate warmer weather and more awake vibes. The organization will continue rescuing and providing happy endings for bears like Dushi. Follow @fourpawsusa on social media or visit the website to learn more about their work and how you can get involved, to donate to support efforts giving bears a second chance at a life filled with naps and freedom.


FOUR PAWS is the global animal welfare organization for animals under direct human influence, which reveals suffering, rescues animals in need, and protects them. Founded in 1988 in Vienna by Heli Dungler and friends, the organization advocates for a world where humans treat animals with respect, empathy, and understanding. FOUR PAWS’ sustainable campaigns and projects focus on companion animals including stray dogs and cats, farm animals and wild animals – such as bears, big cats, and orangutans – kept in inappropriate conditions as well as in disaster and conflict zones. With offices in Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, France, Germany, Kosovo, the Netherlands, Switzerland, South Africa, Thailand, Ukraine, the UK, the USA and Vietnam, as well as sanctuaries for rescued animals in eleven countries, FOUR PAWS provides rapid help and long-term solutions. 

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