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Polar bear exhibits

Discussion in 'General Zoo Discussion' started by Nigel, 28 Feb 2005.

  1. Nigel

    Nigel Well-Known Member

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    Although I still remember the polar bear exhibit at Auckland Zoo from my boyhood years in the 1960s to 1970s , it created no end of costs and problems for the zoo , and so they decided to phase out the exhibit by natural attrition
    ( Keep the bears until they died , and dont replace them )
    Even when the zoo was offered a pair of polar bears for breeding and display , the zoo replied -- thanks , but no thanks .
    Do any Australian zoo have polar bears still on display ? Do these zoos find them very expensive both to maintain , and also difficult to keep them in good health , or was Auckland Zoo just cursed with bad luck with its bears ( polars in particular )
    Now the only place to see bears ( oops -- I mean bear ) in a NZ zoo is the sunbear at Wellington . It is one enclosure at Wellington Zoo which I think is far too small , and the bear is showing signs of psychosis . There is talk about getting a mate and resuming a breeding programme , so if that is the case , I hope the zoo will do something about the enclosure , and lack of enrichment .

    I would think that Orana Park would be a good zoo to build a bear enclosure
    as there is heaps of room , trees and grass and rocks -- great stuff for a brown bear exhibit , no ? But they are more interested in building yet more Africa/Asia exhibits ( like every other zoo ... )
     
  2. Simon Hampel

    Simon Hampel Administrator Staff Member

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  3. patrick

    patrick Well-Known Member

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    sun bears...

    sim's right. melbourne and i assume other australian zoos had polar bears in the past but have since let them die out. despite australia's sea world being located in the sub-tropics, they claim it's the best polar bear enclosure in the world and considering what it cost, i'm not supprised if it is.

    the australian zoos previously had a breeding program for syrian brown bears and this species can be seen at melbourne, adelaide, mogo and mareeba wild animal park (taronga has kodiak brown bears and the national zoo has european brown bears). the program has been discontinued so that the australasian region can focus on the much rarer sun bear and perth zoo recently moved their brown bears to mareeba so as to make room for a new sun bear breeding facility. as part of the plan the male currently housed at perth will be moving to wellington to hopefully breed with their lone female and a new pair of rescued bears will be coming to perth from cambodia.

    the new exhibit plans look good - finally recognising the bears solitary lifestyle by constructing two separate enclosures.
    i totally agree with you on the bears displaying boredom-related behaviours, in fact i have never observed this species in captivity, neither in australia or abroad, without noticing some distrubed pacing or swaying.

    i suppose this could be said for most bear species in captivity.

    unfortunately sun bears are highly arboreal, intellegent animals and i'de say they must suffer somewhat in zoos. we actually have quite a few members of this species already in our regions zoo's but none of them have bred except for, quite ironically, the crazy female nigel mentioned at wellington!

    her offspring is now at the national zoo.

    hopefully the new, purpose built sun bear enclosure at perth, and a whole bunch of enrichment initiatives, will prove a breakthrough in the breeding of this very difficult, yet attractive species. i suspect like amny of the shy species of big cat, they just need some space from eachother and the public and a lot of peace and quiet.

    despite having the title of the world's smallest bear, they actually pack more bite per kilo than any other bear! i suppose having the likes of tiger and leopards to contend with, they have evolved into the pit-bull of the bear family!
     
  4. jay

    jay Well-Known Member

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    Wellington zoo now has two sun bears. The male has arrived from perth and is currently being introduced to the resident bear. Alma Park in Brisbane has a very old female, the male of the pair died within the last two years. Both of these animals were once living at Taronga.

    The Sea world exhibit for polar bears is very good, see my website for a bit of nfo about it. It still attracts criticism from animal rights groups based on being in a sub tropical area. The original female, Kanook died from kidney/liver problems while the male was sent back to China.

    They have four bears at thne moment, a brother/sister from Russia and two brothers from Alaska/Canada.

    Bears are very hard to keep occupied in captivity. A scottish zoo created an exhibit for brown bear covering several acres, including a stream with salmon, a large hill, forest etc.

    They received criticism from people who couldn't see the bears but the bears apparently love it. I think I read about that on the International Zoo news page. Which by the way hasn't updated their site since March 2004.
    Jai
     
  5. Nigel

    Nigel Well-Known Member

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    sunbears

    Does Alma Park Zoo still have 2 sunbears ? That enclosure was probably the best of the Alma Park lot ( and is far better than Wellingtons Sunbear exhibit )
    Lets hope that the Wellington sunbears will be successful at breeding again

    The zoo staff toss in a bucket that has had the inside coated with honey . A simple technique that gives the bear/s something to do for a short while .
    I think that there should be more climbing branches etc , and the enclosure should really have some depth to it ( it is currently far too narrow )

    What are these animals like in their natural state ? Are they as docile as they appear to be ? ( Not that I would promote any sort of close interaction between bear and human )
     
  6. patrick

    patrick Well-Known Member

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    sun bears

    sunbears are certainly not docile at all! (see what i wrote earlier in the thread). i remeber wandering through thailands kho sok national park, scared shitless of bumping into the bear some americans had seen earlier. in the wild sunbears are largely solitary and highly arborial. they think nothing of climbing straight up a solid tree trunk high into the topmost branches of the canopy looking for honey. if they fell they would most certainly die but these bears are so strong they have no problems holding on. i think they need much larger enclosures, allowing for a greater variety of enrichment initiatives. the design should take into account the species shyness (particuarly with breeding) and the enclosures should have separate facilities for male/female bears. perth zoo's planned exhibit will have many of these features, hopefully it'll be very big with lots of trees as well.

    i believe the female bear at alma park zoo has died - leaving only the elderly male.
     
  7. Pertinax

    Pertinax Well-Known Member

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    sun bears.

    I heard recently that Wellington's Sun Bears have bred - is that once, twice or more times now.

    For some reason they are very difficult to breed in zoos- not just in your area - so Wellington Zoo must be doing something right...
     
  8. jay

    jay Well-Known Member

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    I think that this is the second successful breeding at Wellington.
     
  9. Nigel

    Nigel Well-Known Member

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    Wellington zoo and bears

    well , you are right .
    Wellington Zoo is breeding sunbears again .
    I have no idea what the secret is -- the zoo really is not that much better than Alma Park , it has been forced to operate on half the smell of an oily rag , is 100 years old and alot of the original enclosures are still standing , and although it does very well with the pittance it recieves to run the whole lot , it is not "fantastic" zoo by any stretch of the imagination .

    Perhaps Sunbears love cramped concrete holes to live in ?

    I think the Sunbear enclosure at the zoo should be the next project to be upgraded , modified , and greatly enlarged . But its not .

    But then , for some unknown reason , the zoo appears to have no trouble with breeding of primates -- especially chimpanzees and baboons .
    The baboons have a reasonable enclosure ( for now ) but the chimpanzee numbers have outgrown their current one , and if the baboons keep breeding the way they have been , they will need a new enclosure ......

    Sometimes I think that the zoo could sell off all the other animals and house primates -- only . With the huge success in breeding them , they could perhaps look at seeing if some of the luck could rub off onto other primate species whio have not traditionally bred so well in zoos ....(?)
     
  10. jay

    jay Well-Known Member

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    You must be a bit chiffed at Wellington getting funding for some major upgrading Nigel. It was quite a lot.
     
  11. Coquinguy

    Coquinguy Well-Known Member

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    and the idea of a specialist primate park like appenhuel in holland could work really well too. but then i think its better to keep zoos more ecological, not taxonomic because it has better education outcomes
     
  12. Nigel

    Nigel Well-Known Member

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    at last a decent sum of money for the zoo -- and not before time !!