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
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.