Conservation and life in Borneo

Bear Enrichment

A sun bear (Rungus) enjoying a food parcel.

Environmental enrichment has been defined as “The actions taken to enhance the well being of captive animals by identifying and providing key environmental stimuli” (Swaisgood 2007). Wild sunbears have a strong instinct to perform certain behaviours, so they need to be given an environment which allows them to perform these behaviours in order to stay healthy & sane. Sun bears have a strong drive to forage for food, and even if captive bears are provided with all their nutritional needs, they will become frustrated and stressed if they cannot forage. Enrichment caters for these needs. It is not a optional extra, it is a necessity for the well-being of captive bears.

There are many different kinds of enrichment given to the bears. Below is a quick “how to” on the preparation of a “mystery package” type enrichment for sun bears, as seen in the photo above. It’s a bit like ‘pass the parcel’ for bears, only there’s just one bear and there’s no music!

an old cardboard box
a few bananas
peanut butter
dry leaves

1. Take an old medium-sized cardboard box and check it for staples. When certain it is free of staples, open it out onto the floor.

2. Scoop out a handful of peanut butter and smear it onto top the surface of the box.

3. Do the same with your bananas. When you have done this, sprinkle some cinnamon over the top.

4. Add some dry leaves along the centre and then fold the sides in.

5. Roll the ends up so that they meet in the middle forming a package.

6. Use rope to get the parcel as tight as possible (I used a fisherman’s knot, but feel free to experiment).

7. Secure parcel on all sides using rope. Et voila! your package is now ready to give a sunbear hours (well, minutes) of enjoyment.


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