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Stereotypic behaviour in Asiatic black and Malayan sun bears.

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Title: Stereotypic behaviour in Asiatic black and Malayan sun bears.
Author: Mason, G.J.; Vickery, S.S.
Abstract: The stereotypies of individually caged Asiatic black bears (Ursus thibetanus) and Malayan sun bears (Helarctos malayanus) were studied in detail. Stereotypies were performed by 27 of the 29 subjects, were primarily locomotory in form (e.g., pacing), and occupied on average 18% (standard error of the mean (SEM)= 2.5) of daylight hours. Stereotypy levels during the night were almost negligible and were highly correlated with daytime levels. Total stereotypies peaked prior to food arrival, although oral stereotypies were most frequent after feeding. In general, stereotypies were performed in locations from which food arrival could be viewed, although Asiatic black bears were equally likely to exhibit stereotypy near a neighboring bear. Across individuals, stereotypy frequency was inversely correlated with inactivity and increased with age. Older bears also showed less normal activity and a reduced diversity of normal behavior. Stereotypy levels were unrelated to levels of ‘‘compulsive’’ behavior (e.g., hair plucking) or repetitive self-sucking–a potential deprivation stereotypy. More frequent stereotypies were performed more invariantly (i.e., were more predictable from one repetition to the next) and in more diverse contexts, namely 1) outside the prefeeding period, and 2) during the night. Contrary to observations reported elsewhere, higher frequencies of stereotypy were not associated with reduced behavioral diversity, or with a more elaborate repertoire of stereotypy forms and sequences. Although the two species did not differ in overall frequency, the stereotypies of sun bears appeared to be more food-motivated than those of Asiatic black bears: the sun bears displayed a higher frequency and diversity of oral stereotypies, and higher levels of pre-feeding stereotypy, and performed significantly more of their total stereotypies in locations from which they could view food arrival. This study demonstrates how analyzing stereotypies in detail can help identify the motivations that underlie these behaviors, and potentially reveal their degree of establishment–both of which are important factors in stereotypy treatment. Zoo Biol 23:409–430, 2004.
Date: 2004
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Related Publications: S. S. Vickery & G. J. Mason (2004). Stereotypic behaviour in Asiatic black and Malayan sun bears. Zoo Biology 23: 409 - 430.

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