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Possible Influences of Positive Scent Stimuli on the Behavior of Captive Polar Bears (Ursus maritimus) PowerPoint Presentation
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Possible Influences of Positive Scent Stimuli on the Behavior of Captive Polar Bears (Ursus maritimus). Shannon L. Fredebaugh, Eduardo J. Fernandez, and William Timberlake Indiana University and the Indianapolis Zoo. Results

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Possible Influences of Positive Scent Stimuli on the Behavior of Captive Polar Bears (Ursus maritimus)

Shannon L. Fredebaugh, Eduardo J. Fernandez, and William Timberlake

Indiana University and the Indianapolis Zoo

  • Results
  • Tundra: behaviors did not seem to change overall, but exhibited more food oriented behaviors during the spray time (t = 1.835, p = .096).
  • Triton:
    • Significant decreases in inactivity before and during the spray periods (t = 2.384, p = 0.028; t = 2.173, p = 0.043).
    • Stereotypic behaviors increased before the spray and inactivity decreased after the spray (t = 2.043, p = 0.056; t = 1.750, p = 0.097).
    • Triton’s enclosure use, grooming, and activity levels increased when he was alone (t = 2.015, p = 0.059; t = 1.974, p = 0.064; t = 2.368, p = 0.029).
  • Polar Bear Background
  • In the wild, polar bears may travel 1,200 to 2,500 miles during seasonal migrations and up to 15 miles a day to find food (Reeves, Stewart, Clapham, & Powell, 2002).
  • Foraging is engaged through smell since polar bears have such sensitive noses that they can smell a seal more than 20 miles away (Domico, 1988).
  • Many predatory animals in zoos exhibit stereotypic behaviors – pointless repetitive activities – often related to feeding time (Grindod & Cleaver, 2001; Carlstead, Seidensticker, & Baldwin, 1991).
  • Enrichment in the form of food and other food-related stimuli can disrupt stereotypic activities.
  • Fixed time intervals using food helped to decrease stereotypic behaviors (Fernandez & Timberlake, 2004).
  • Hypothesis: Scent stimuli should provide cues to encourage focal search behaviors, thus disrupting general search foraging loops (i.e., stereotypic activity).

Tundra

Triton

Figure 2: Tundra’s Classes of Behaviors Before, During and After Spray Presentation

Figure 1: Triton’s Classes of Behaviors Before, During and After Spray Presentation

  • Discussion
  • The increase in food-oriented behaviors suggests that Tundra did attend to the scents. However, the scents had no effect on her other behaviors.
  • Polar bears are solitary animals in the wild, and this may help explain Triton’s increase in activity and exhibit use when Tundra was not on exhibit.
  • The spray may not have been as effective due to external stimuli including other scents, such as seals next to their exhibit and food in zoo.
  • The spray elicits decreases in inactivity. However, the lack of consumption may not allow for the completion of foraging activity, and thus may exacerbate stereotypic activity.
  • Tangible food/objects appear to have a greater effect for a longer time on decreasing stereotypies (Altman, 2000; Frenandez & Timberlake, 2004).
  • Subjects
  • Two polar bears at the Indianapolis Zoo
  • A female, named Tundra and a male named Triton
  • Both are captive born
  • Tundra is 20 years old and Triton is 9 years old

Figure 3: Entropy Before, During and After Spray Presentation

Figure 4: Triton’s Classes of Behaviors and Entropy Depending on Tundra’s Presence

  • Methods
  • Ethogram - General behaviors observed for a given animal or species – 21 behaviors and 7 classes of behaviors
  • Stereotypies – pace swimming, pacing, and circle swimming
  • 1st Set of Baseline (BL) – 5 days of regular observations – no spray bottle
  • 1st Set of Spray (FT-1’)– 5 days of “polar bear spray” on fixed time interval
    • Five sprays each minute for middle half hour
  • Both sets were repeated, but 2nd BL with water spray bottle on FT-1’
  • Instantaneous time samples – every 15s
  • References
  • Altman, J. D., (2000). Effects of Inedible, Manipulable Objects on Captive Bears. Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science.

2, 123-132.

  • Carlstead, K., Seidensticker, J., & Baldwin, R. (1991). Environmental enrichment for zoo bears. Zoo Biology, 10, 3-16.
  • Domico, Terry. Bears of the World. New York: Facts On File, 1988.
  • Fernandez, E. & Timberlake, W.(2004). Fixed-Time Food Schedules and Their Effects on Activity Patterns in Two Adult

Polar Bears (Ursus maritimus).

  • Grindod, J. A. E. & Cleaver, J. A. (2001). Environmental Enrichment Reduces the Performance of Stereotypic Circling

Behaviour in Captive Common Seals (Phoca vitulina). Animal Welfare, 10, 53 – 63.

  • Reeves, R. R., Stewart, B. S., Clapham, P. J., & Powell, J. A. (2002). National Audubon Society Guide to Marine Mammals of

the World. New York (NY): Chanticleer Press, Inc. 39 p.

Contact Information

Shannon Fredebaugh

Ohio Wesleyan University

HWCC Box No. 1689

Delaware, OH 43015

(440) 537-2902

slfredeb@owu.edu

Acknowledgements

Thanks to Sarah Goss-Robertson and India Swearingen for helping collect data.

= significant (p = .05)

= approaching significance (p = .10)