Following on from Baby Bear I’s successful integration with Jo, she was recently mixed in the outdoor enclosure with the other two adults, Situ and Corrine. We were most concerned about Corrine’s reaction – when she was first mixed with Bernie back in 2008, she was not impressed with him at all and was not shy to point it out. She is also the most likely of all the bears to bark, growl and lash out unexpectedly, and we were not sure how tolerant she would be of a new bear.
For many species of animal, males are significantly more aggressive than females and are far more likely to be the instigators of fights, though in sun bears both males and females can show aggression to con specifics. We have found it is possible to decrease aggressive displays through a highly enriched feeding routine each day. Bears are solitary animals by nature, and aggression in captivity seems stimulated by feelings of competition over resources, so if each bear is engrossed in its own foraging, paying little mind to others in its area, they seem less inclined to fight.
That said, there were actually no problems in the integration of Baby Bear I with the adults. She was very calm, and intent on her own foraging when outside. When she came across another bear, they would sniff each other and occasionally she would run away from them, but the other bears seemed un-phased with the new addition to their enclosure. This now means we can have all of the bears in this area out each day, practising their foraging, digging and climbing skills and increasing their natural behaviour. The related photo shows Baby Bear I outside with two of the adults – if we manage to get any more photos I will post them here.
Apologies for the teasing post a couple of weeks ago, stating a photo of Baby Bear II, which actually was not posted. You can now see this lovely bear battling with a coconut – though she is young she is not lacking in strength or sharp teeth! She was recently moved into the hill enclosure at the centre, and begins the process of integration that Baby Bear I has just completed. She was initially terrified of the sight of the adults, and I would guess this is the first time she has seen another bear since she was with her mum. It has only been a short time, but already she is comfortable with their presence, albeit with the safety of a cage in between her and them. She is too young to be mixed with them at the moment, though we will give her access to the outdoor enclosure in the coming weeks. I will post some photos when she gets out there.