Ursid polar bear, the two species most frequently encountered

Ursid species
are in general extremely intelligent and opportunistic with respect to foraging
strategies. They explore and roam over large areas (Sergiel and Maslak., 2014). This particularly
applies to the brown and the polar bear, the two species most frequently
encountered in captivity. The size of a home range of a male brown bear is as
large as 8 171 km2, for the polar bear 596 800 km2, which
is more than twice the area of Great Britain (Montaudouin and Le Pape., 2005; Shepherdson., 2005).
Despite improved understanding and awareness of bear welfare through recent
developments in welfare science, many bears continue to be kept in
inappropriate environments such as concrete enclosures (Maslak et al., 2016). Many bear
enclosures lack enrichment, are spatially limited, and have simple layouts (Carlstead, 1996). Assessments
of the welfare of captive bears has included behavioural analysis of the stereotypies
displayed, as these are the most common behavioural symptoms of stress and
decreased welfare (Mason
& Latham, 2004). In one study where a survey of 33 carnivores was
undertaken, members of the Ursidae family displayed both the highest frequency
and the maximum prevalence of stereotypic behaviour (Clubb & Mason, 2003). The framework for the
analysis of animal welfare is based on the five freedoms principles. These
include: freedom from hunger and thirst; freedom from discomfort; freedom from
pain, injury, and disease; freedom to behave normally; and freedom from fear
and distress (Demartoto et al., 2017).

For many species ensuring reasonable animal welfare in captivity is
extremely challenging (Clubb
and Mason., 2003; Mason and Clubb., 2004). Over time species has evolved
and their physical, physiological and behavioural traits have developed to
optimise their chances of survival in their natural environment (Clubb and Mason., 2007). It has been found that if the captive
environment does not contain the species specific needs, there can be a
deterioration in both physical and mental health such as the development of
abnormal behaviour, disease and even early mortality (Sergiel et al., 2012). Similarly, invasive
interventions such as the restriction of movement, training using negative
reinforcement techniques, being trained to preform unnatural behaviours or making
modifications to the normal physiology of animals to reduce risks when
handling, can cause severe and lasting distress (Blackett et al., 2017). 

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