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Providing evidence to improve practice

Individual study: Effects of feeding enrichment on behavior of three species of captive bear

Published source details

Forthman D.L, Elder S.D., Bakeman R., Kurkowski T.W. , Noble C.C. & Winslow S.W. (1992) Effects of feeding enrichment on behavior of three species of captive bear. Zoo Biology, 11, 187-195

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Carnivores: Present food frozen in ice Management of Captive Animals

A small replicated, before-and-after study in 1989 of a Kodiak brown bear Ursus arctos middendorffi, an Asiatic black bear Selenarctos thibetanus and two polar bears Ursus maritimus in a zoo in the USA found that providing food inside ice blocks increased active behaviours and decreased passive and abnormal behaviours in the first year of observation compared to non-enriched conditions. When provided with fish in frozen iceblocks, bears spent more time engaged in behaviours classed as active (49.6% of observations), less time in passive behaviours (47.6% of observations) and performed fewer abnormal behaviours (2.8% of observations) compared to non-enriched conditions (active: 19.4%, passive: 73.3%, abnormal: 7.3% of observations). These results were only significant in the first year of observations. Four solitary-housed bears were studied using instantaneous focal sampling at one-minute intervals, each exhibit was sampled once every five minutes during two 30 minute sessions a day, three days a week, over five months in 1989 and four months in 1990. For the Kodiak and polar bears the enrichment consisted of plain ice blocks and whole mackerel frozen inside ice blocks. For the Asiatic black bear the ice blocks contained peanuts, apples, raisins, peanut butter and grape jelly. These items were also scattered around the enclosure for the black bear.