Their Status, Conservation & Welfare in Captivity
The Federation of Zoological Gardens of Great Britain & Ireland
The Zoological Society of Glasgow & the West of Scotland
selection of papers from a Conference held at Glasgow Zoo, Scotland
by R.J.P.O'Grady & D.G.Hughes
The Federation of Zoological Gardens of Great Britain and Ireland
1994 Zoological Society of Glasgow and the West of Scotland
Citation: O'Grady, R.J.P. & Hughes, D.G. (eds) (1994). Bears:
Their Status, Conservation & Welfare in Captivity. Zoological
Society of Glasgow and the West of Scotland
Design: David G. Hughes and Lynne M. Collins
Published by: The Zoological Society of Glasgow and the West of
Scotland, Glasgow Zoopark. Calderpark, Uddingston, Glasgow G71
ISBN : 0 9519439 1 X
R.J.P.O'Grady Zoological Society of Glasgow & West of Scotland
is with great pride and pleasure, that we in Glasgow hosted the
first European Conference on the Status, Conservation and Welfare
of Bears in Captivity. We feel that we have a special interest in
this much maligned group of animals after gaining the Universities
Federation for Animal Welfare 1989 Zoo Animal Welfare Award for
our Asiatic black bear enclosures.
we are very proud of this award, it is worth remembering that when
we set out to plan and build our enclosures the UFAW awards had
not been devised. After twenty five years of negative experiences
with our out-dated polar bear enclosure, we had some very positive
views on what might be required in a modem, humane bear enclosure.
keeping of bears in captivity is not new - the Romans sacrificed
Caledonian brown bears in the Colosseum, AD 77. They perfected the
techniques for capturing, then transporting such large and dangerous
creatures. Analysis of their travelling crates, the cages and methods
used to hold the bears - sometimes for months on end - show designs
virtually unchanged for 2000 years.
examination of the cages in the Tower of London menagerie of the
18th and 19th century and the early days of the London Zoo in the
1820's and 1830's tell virtually the same story. For the most part
every cage was characterised by a formidably strong and heavy construction
and small size, frequently being no larger than a small room. In
those circumstances, it should come as no surprise that most of
the animals so confined showed varying degrees of disturbed behaviour.
depressing scenario has continued virtually up to the present day
with some illuminating exceptions. In the second half of the 13th
century, around 1380, a polar bear in the Tower of London was frequently
allowed out on a long chain to swim and catch fish in the Thames.
In the 1940's, Whipsnade Zoo created a magnificent, heavily planted
brown bear enclosure of some three acres in extent, and there were
other large enclosures on the continent of varying types.
the example set by Whipsnades enclosure, why wasn't it adopted as
the norm or perhaps the minimum by zoos worldwide? It is too easy
to say that others probably could not afford the cost. The real
explanation is the absence of compassion, insight and understanding.
We have all seen bear enclosures, where any significant improvement
in space has been immediately negated by a deliberate increase in
the numbers of bears, which promptly reduces the enclosure back
to an unsightly desert or mud heap. The response of most zoos, as
with other "destructive" creatures like porcupines or badgers,
is to then concrete the floor of the enclosure which looks much
tidier and can be maintained in a clean and hygienic condition.
like this it is little wonder that bears through the centuries,
have become notorious for their bizarre behaviour patterns in captivity.
Observed and described by artists and scientists alike, many - especially
the artists recognised these behaviours as not natural; to be "wrong",
yet little was done until fairly recently.In zoos, particularly
in the case of polar bears, such "stereotyping" became almost
acceptable and until the mid 1980's even defended, on the grounds
that the "head-bobbing" and "forward and backwards pacing"
had been recorded in the wild, and was therefore "normal".
"defending of the indefensible" is a commonly observed reaction.
Although much has changed and improved, the basic dilemmas are still
there though. On the one hand most of us are very keen to help with
the conservation of some desperately threatened species of bears,
yet on the other hand dread the long-term maintenance problems if
our enclosures are, or become, out-dated, in need of expansion,
refurbishment and enlargement.
zoos seize on the behavioural and environmental enrichment techniques
currently available as an opportunity to do something right away
and certainly these techniques do help these long lived and intelligent
creatures. However the first essential is the provision of much,
much larger "biologically sound" enclosures, to which behavioural
enrichment techniques should provide the finishing touches.
is up to us in the zoologically advanced world in Europe, to set
the lead. Instead of 'kowtowing' to the antis we should be devising
enclosures satisfying to all sides, so together we can harness the
cumulative conservation energy, to do something about the abuses
of performing bears in Greece, Turkey and India, and set up co-operative
management programmes for 'endangered' species and sub-species
this effect, we were extremely privileged to be able to welcome
Drs. Koen Brouwer of the EEP Executive office to the conference.
Thanks to Koen's work we will eventually posses a detailed knowledge
of the numbers and species of bears in captivity and be able to
relate this to the situation in the wild and their long term captive
maintenance. Really effective co-operative action will then become
possible so that some at least of the currently imperilled species
of bear will still be around in a hundred or two hundred years time
when our great-grand children will be able to see them.
Report of the
Status Conservation & Coordination
A Review of
the evolution, systematics, functional morphology
distribution and status of the Ursidae
and Breeding of Spectacled bear
Tremartos ornatus at the Jersey Wildlife Preservation Trust
and their welfare at the Highland Wildlife Park:
present practices and proposed developments
in Captivity - With particular reference to the
Asiatic black bear Selenarctos thibetanus
Environmental Enrichment from a Box?
Criteria for choice of species
Rapporteur: Nick L.Jackson, Welsh Mountain Zoo, Wales
Rapporteur: Miranda F. Stevenson, Edinburgh Zoo, Edinburgh
Workshop 3: European Taxon Advisory Group for Bears
Rapporteur: Koen Brouwer, NFRZG, Amsterdam
4: Behavioural needs of bears in captivity
Rapporteur: Trevor Poole, UFAW
Japanese Bear Parks
Rapporteur: Victor Watkins, WSPA
'tic a l'ours
The Bear, by Robert Frost (poem)