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Seeking Polar Bear Enrichment Methods

Discussion in 'General Zoo Discussion' started by Deer Forest, 8 Feb 2015.

  1. Deer Forest

    Deer Forest Well-Known Member

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    Hello everyone,

    Beijing Zoo now prepares to make some enrichments for the polar bear.

    Do you have any ideas to share, besides simply tires, balls and logs?

    Ice and pumpkins are also good choice, but is there any permanent device that can be used for long term?

    Thanks :)
     
    Last edited: 8 Feb 2015
  2. TheMightyOrca

    TheMightyOrca Well-Known Member

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    Maybe put some ice in the water, big blocks. Polar bears like ice. Some of the ice could have treats inside.
     
  3. LaughingDove

    LaughingDove Well-Known Member

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    I've seen pumpkins used as enrichment for polar bears as they can be chased around in the water and the bears can try to break them.
     
  4. vogelcommando

    vogelcommando Well-Known Member

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    Putting some life fish into the waterpart of the enclosure.
    Hide smelling things on the land-part ( deer/seal/horse or cow poo for example ), or put a little spices ( for example nutgem, cinnamon or pepper ) on rocks and tree trunks.
     
  5. arafan

    arafan Well-Known Member

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    How about some barrels filled with food, maybe they also could have some holes the food would fall out of them.
    Maybe also some kind of different smell (parfum, honey, pepper) would encourage them to move a little.
     
  6. Zooplantman

    Zooplantman Well-Known Member

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    Enrichment should have two goals: mental stimulation and physical. There is a limit to enrichment that is simply based on treats that require little effort to obtain. Scent-based is an excellent approach. If a fish is to be the treat then it should be in a very large block of ice so the animal must work for a long time to get to it (and polar bears are certainly determined creatures). The land area here looks small so a digging area may not be possible (without threatening the trees and the water filters). Also look here: The Shape of Enrichment
     
  7. Jurek7

    Jurek7 Well-Known Member

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    Is it a single polar bear? Does it have glass viewing (glass breaking risk?) Is it closed for night?

    From my mind:
    - changing meal times every day (also reduces pacing before feeding time)
    - medical training - the bear is taught to stand still, present feet, open mouth etc. for a veterinary inspection and rewarded with food.
    - any toy which is good for big dog should work
    - pieces of meat, skin, bones to chew
    - ice treats made from filling a bucket with water and some vegetables and freezing it into a block.
    - a platform for the bear to climb and look over the area around
    - any big bright plastic thing which floats - like water canister or traffic cone


    Generally, enrichment to be enriching MUST be varied. Giving few toys and leaving them forever will make bear bored again. Zoos often have a monthly plan, with new enrichment every day.

    Optimal would be leaving the bear outside for night, or at least bedding in the night quarters.

    See also:
    https://www.aza.org/ uploadedfiles/ animal_care_and_management/ husbandry, _health, _and_welfare/ husbandry_and_animal_care/ polarbearcaremanual.pdf

    There was an article which I cannot find now, and it evaluated what enrichment actually works best with bears. It should be on the internet. It looks eg. that toys are enrichment which is most often given, but least interesting for bears.
     
  8. JBZvolunteer

    JBZvolunteer Well-Known Member

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    What can work well with other carnivores is giving them the old straw bedding from a hoof stock exhibit. I haven't seen this done with polar bears, but it could work well.
     
  9. callorhinus

    callorhinus Well-Known Member

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    It works well in our zoo.