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Materials and Methods

Study Area

The study was conducted within the Central Florida Zoo and Botanical Gardens located in Sanford, Florida. This study took place over ten weeks, beginning on May 21st, 2018 and ending on July 28th, 2018. Both bears were fed the same diet, consisting of bear chow, fresh fruit, sunflower seeds, peanuts, craisins, raisins, and other various fruits that were in season. Enrichment items were given to the bears in equal amounts, with two of each type of enrichment item in the enclosure at a time. Enrichment items include rotten logs from the wooded area surrounding much of the zoo, which likely contained insects, and balls and pipes containing food. Included in the bears' enclosure was a smaller shed area that the bears did not have access to for most of the day. The inside of the shed contained two den areas and two pool areas. On most days after 16:00, the bears were put into the shed area until 09:00 the next morning. An exclusion to this rule were days when cleaning or lawn maintenance was done; the bears would remain in the shed for longer periods of time or would not leave the shed at all. Observations were not made within the shed area.

Within the outside exhibit area, in addition to the enrichment items that were changed near-daily, the bears had access to an enrichment pool, a climbable tree, a wooden treehouse, and several fallen trees. Guests were able to view the bears from several areas. The entrance to the bear viewing area is where guests were closest to the bears. The most northeast portion of the viewing area, the "left arm," allows guests to get near the bears if they were away from the entrance. A small building, called the bear house, serves as a way for guests to view the bears away from the Florida heat. Many windows allow for guests inside of the bear house to get a view of the bears from almost anywhere in the enclosure, with the exception of a small area behind the treehouse. The layout of the enclosure and viewing area is shown in Figure 1.

Figure 1. The bears were closed out of the shed and into the viewing area during the day. The viewing area can be divided into three parts: the entrance, bear house, and left arm.

Observational Methods

Approximately nine hours of observations were collected each week over the ten week study period. A total of 86 hours of observations were collected on the bears over this time. Observations were taken from within the bear house in five-hour intervals twice a week, starting at 09:15, when the bears entered the outside area, until 14:15. Observations were typically done on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. Behavior was documented on an ethogram in five-minute intervals, with notes being taken between the intervals and on the bears' behavior. Behaviors that occupied the majority of the fiveminute observation period were recorded as "Primary Behaviors" and were the predominant focus of this study. The recorded behaviors and the definitions are located in Table 1. The location that the behavior was being performed was recorded to evaluate where the bears were spending most of their time.

Guests were counted as they entered the viewing area, and a linear regression was made to evaluate any correlation that may exist between the number of guests visiting the bears' viewing area and the amount of pacing performed by the bears. The R2 value was calculated to support any correlations found.

A weighted average was calculated for the evaluated behaviors, due to the slight variance in the number of observations between days. The weight used was the ratio of the total number of observations for the day to the total number of observations made over the duration of the study. A weighted standard deviation was also calculated, and the data were evaluated for significance (P<0.05) using ANOVA.

There were days where the bears were separated, with one bear kept in the shed and the other bear kept out on exhibit. These days were referred to as "separation days." A total of five separation days were observed. Of the five days, the male bear was on exhibit alone for twice the amount of time the female bear was on exhibit alone. Due to the small amount of data, the effect of separation on the bears could not be fully evaluated.

Table 1. Lists the behaviors documented on the ethogram and their definitions.

Results >>