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Bears in captivity are prone to develop stereotypies. The motivational background for this may be a feeding routine in captivity that differs vastly from that in the wild. While wild bears spend a considerable amount of time foraging every day, bears in captivity are presented with feed bowls, occupying a limited feeding-time each day resulting in much ‘free-time’, which has been considered a causation for the development of stereotypies. One way of remedying stereotypies is by the presentation of environmental enrichment (EE). The benefits gained by the presentation of EE are widely recognized in terms of their positive effects on welfare, however, few studies have studied how to maximize the effect of EE. In order to gain the most benefit possible from EE, one should include beneficial strategies described in the literature. EE that offers an external reward maintain responsiveness longer compared to EE that offer no reward, where a habituation toward the EE occur more commonly. It has also been stated that a reduced interest towards an EE may recover if the EE item is withheld for a period of time. This means that breaks between presentations may strengthen the responsiveness and allowing the same EE to maintain high rates of expressions of the rewarded behaviours.

Responsible for this page: Agneta Johansson
Last updated: 05/05/08