Thursday, 14 August 2014

JMICAWE and Animals Asia research social relationships in bears

At this year’s International Society for Applied Ethology conference, former Edinburgh Animal Welfare MSc student Jessa Lampe presented her Masters research project on social relationships among Asiatic black bears rescued from the bear bile trade. Whilst most bear species have traditionally been considered solitary, recent research by David Shepherdson and colleagues at the Oregon Zoo in the USA demonstrated that Polar bears actually exhibit less stereotypy if housed socially.

Similarly Jessa’s research at Animals Asia’s rescue centre in China showed that Asiatic black bears will invest much more time in developing affiliative relationships than engaging in antagonistic behaviour. This time investment suggests that social contact is extremely important for captive Asiatic black bears.

Heather Bacon of the JMICAWE said “Research like this is vital in helping us to understand what is actually important to wild animals in captivity and to challenge the myth and tradition that often influences how we manage wild animals in zoos and sanctuaries

The JMICAWE and SRUC team looks forward to welcoming our new on-campus and online animal welfare masters students during the next few weeks.  Meanwhile the current masters students are busy finalising their theses ready for hand-in this Friday.

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