bear sleeping in grass

March Napness 2024

The Sleepiest Bear Competition is back. Who will be crowned the champion of sleep?


Inspired by the college basketball bracket tournament, March Madness we want to put our bears up to the challenge of becoming the master of sleep. We house over 100 rescued brown bears in sanctuaries across the globe and a lucky 23 of these bears have been chosen to participate in the most epic (sleepy)head-to-(sleepy)head battle. The rules are simple: whoever sleeps the longest, wins! 

Starting 1st March, 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.  

We will also be sharing weekly updates on social media so don't miss out!

Bracket of 24 bears competing in the March Napness Competition

Meet the Bears

BEAR SANCTUARY Arbesbach, Austria


Age: 14 | Rescued in 2015 from an animal park in Austria

Fun Fact: Erich is known for his “macho-walk.” However, he is a gentle giant who will, 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 7th March.


Age: 26 | Rescued in 2022 from a restaurant in Albania

Fun Fact: Mark is believed to be Albania’s last “restaurant bear." 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 in 2019 from a restaurant in Albania

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, waking up on 11th April.


Age: 18 | Rescued in 2019 from a restaurant in Albania

Fun Fact: He hibernates in the same den as Meimo but let's 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, waking up on 11th April.


Age: 20 | Rescued in 2022 from a zoo in Macedonia

Fun Fact: He is bear Jamila's brother! Last winter was the first hibernation of Sam’s life. Check out his live web cam here.
Sleepy Stats: Last year, Sam woke up on 14th March, a week before his sister.


Age: 20 | Rescued in 2022 from a zoo in Macedonia

Fun Fact: She is bear Sam's sister! Fun Fact: Last winter was the first hibernation of Jamila’s life! Check out her live web cam here.
Sleepy Stats: Last year, Jamila up on 21st March, a week after her brother.

BEAR SANCTUARY Belitsa, Bulgaria


Age: 24 | Rescued in 2017 from life as a 'selfie bear' 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 in 2007 from life as a 'dancing bear' in Bulgaria

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 4th April. She was Belitsa’s longest sleeper in 2023.


Age: 31 | Rescued in 2003 from life as a 'dancing bear' in Bulgaria

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 in 2005 from life as a 'dancing bear' in Bulgaria

Fun Fact: Marinka loves enrichments from her caregivers, particularly when they contain her favorite food—nuts!
Sleepy Stats: Marinka competed last year, waking up during the week of 21st March.  

BEAR SANCTUARY Domazhyr, Ukraine


Age: 13 | Rescued in 2019 from a rundown zoo in Ukraine

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 and she started hibernating on 8th November. 


Age: 22 | Rescued in 2017 from a hunting station in Ukraine

Fun Fact: He loves to play with his friend Mashutka, and even once stole the hibernation den she dug for herself! 
Sleepy Stats: This is Tyson’s first year competing and he started hibernating on 18th November.


Age: 17 | Rescued in 2013 from a hunting station in Ukraine

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 12th November.

BEAR SANCTUARY Müritz, Germany


Age: 15 | Rescued in 2019 from 'Europe's Worst Zoo' in Albania

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 in 2017 from a circus in Serbia

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 21st March.


Age: 19 | Rescued in 2019 from a restaurant in Ukraine

Fun Fact: Lelya tends to more dominant than her sister Dasha; however, Lelya lets Dasha take the lead in unfamiliar situations.
Sleepy Stats: This is her first year competing.


Age: 21 | Rescued in 2011 from a zoo in Poland

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 21st March.

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 25th April.


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.

How can I participate?

If you want to play along at home, you can download your own March Napness Bracket below:

2024 March Napness Bracket - Colour Version

2024 March Napness Bracket - Colour Version

Download your own bracket to make your predictions.

2024 March Napness Bracket – Printer Friendly Version

2024 March Napness Bracket – Printer Friendly Version

Download this version to save on ink if you wish to print it out.

Weekly updates!

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

Week Seven: 18th April

Who woke up this week?  

  • Tyson, BEAR SANCTUARY Domazhyr 
  • Jamila, Arosa Bear Sanctuary 
  • Sam, Arosa Bear Sanctuary 
  • Dushi, BEAR SANCUTARY Müritz 

We officially have a winner! Congratulations to the sleepiest bear of 2024, Dushi from BEAR SANCTUARY Müritz! 

Week 7 of March Napness was a real claw-biter! It seems that spring was calling across Europe as our final four bears in Ukraine, Switzerland, and Germany decided they were done with their winter rest, and Tyson, Jamila, Sam, and Dushi all woke up this past week.

However, Dushi from BEAR SANCTUARY Müritz held out a few days longer than her fellow competitors, making her the 2024 March Napness Champion!  

This marks the second year in a row that our sleepiest bear resides at BEAR SANCTUARY Müritz in Germany. Congrats to the team at Müritz!

Stay tuned next week when we crown the MVB (most voted-for bear) and keep an eye out for future celebrations of our Sleepy Bear Champ, Dushi, throughout the spring! 

Week Six: 9th April

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 BEAR SANCTUARY Bear. 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?

Week Five: 2nd April 2024

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 are blooming, the temperature is rising, and more bears are waking up 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, waking up 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 Müritz champ, Dushi, snoozes on, and partners Sam and Jamila are still sleeping it out for the Swiss title at BEAR SANCTUARY Arosa.

Who do you think will be the next to wake up and who will sleep all the way the 2024 championship?

Week Four: 26th March 2024

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 (or, 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, which 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 wake up 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 Domazhyr the only sanctuary where all the first-round competitors still remain.

Who do you think will be the next to wake up? Stay tuned on social media for the latest updates in March Napness 2024!

Week Three: 19th March 2024

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 three-legged friends! Who will snooze their way to the German title?

Week Two: 12th March 2024

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. 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! 

Week One: 5th March 2024

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 bracket, and share your predictions on our social media channels!

Two bears in water

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