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New routines improve life for shelter bears

2018-09-12
  • New routines improve life for shelter bears

    New routines improve life for shelter bears

    A bear shelter in Taiwan has made life happier for its residents through better conditions.
For years, a wildlife center run by the agriculture ministry has been caring for rescued bears. Conservationists say changes over the past two years have given the bears a better quality of life, with visible results.
 
 
This government wildlife center is devoted to research and conservation. Its mission extends to caring for a group of seven bears, including four Formosan black bears. Some of these bears were taken in after suffering injuries, while others have been rescued from illegal captivity.
 
 
For the most part, the bears have been at the center for between ten and twenty years. Conservationists noticed that after a long period in the center, the bears started displaying repetitive behaviors, such as pacing, rocking back and forth, or walking in circles. Since 2016, the center’s staff has been working to enrich the bears’ lives and reduce such behavior.
 
 
The way food is presented to the bears has changed, allowing them to spend more time “foraging.” Their living space has been enlivened too, with features such as a hammock-like bed made of discarded fire hose encouraging climbing and other natural behavior.
 
 
The bears have also been trained to make routine tasks like injections, oral health inspections, and tooth brushing less stressful overall. 
 
 
Staff say that while they had expected training and better conditions to have a positive impact on the bears, the results have gone beyond expectations.