ABC 2016 - A STEP IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION
Who are you and what can I do for you? At Advancing Bear Care 2016-A Step in the Right Direction, held at Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium in Nebraska, delegates from around the world gathered to learn novel ideas and progressive behavior-based husbandry practices. Presentations provided new ideas contributing to daily care and husbandry programming in training, enrichment, habitat enhancement, environmental design, medical care, and husbandry routines. Through best practices and standards discussions, delegates explored the challenges of trying to improve captive living situations for bears and how to provide them opportunities to express daily and seasonal living strategies.
PRESENTATION TOPICS INCLUDED
Key Note Speaker: Jill Robinson, MBE, Dr. Med Vet HC, founder of Animals Asia
Behavior-Based Bear Husbandry
Minimum Standards of Care and Why They Matter
Training for Veterinary Management
Progressive Bear Veterinary Care
Choice and Control
ENCLOSURE DESIGN AND REDESIGN
Bears living in wild environments express daily and seasonal routines as dictated by their genetic programming. Captive bears experience the same drives and will set up similar living routines when given the internal and external environment to do so. The ability to express species-specific behaviors reduces stressors inherent in captive living and promotes physical and mental health. This workshop focused on designing habitats and furniture to meet bears’ needs, including retrofitting old exhibits without breaking the bank. Delegates divided up by species to share ideas for exhibit design and redesign addressing challenges with their exhibits.
USING ENRICHMENT DEVICES TO PROVIDE BEHAVIORAL OPPORTUNITIES
Part two of the enrichment workshop focused on the development of enrichment devices and activities that provide opportunities for bears to carry out various living strategies that are based on their natural history. Delegates divided up by living strategies to share ideas and designs for their favorite devices and activities.
MEDICAL TRAINING WORKSHOP:
Operant conditioning, specifically the use of positive reinforcement, allows us to teach the animals in our care to participate in regular daily husbandry routines, but also allows us to manage their health at a voluntary level. Bears can be trained to voluntarily participate in complex medical procedures, such as injections, blood collection, and ultrasounds, to name a few, and will readily choose to train for favored rewards. Management of a long-term training program allows animal care and veterinary staff to assess and treat various medical concerns, and allows for more comprehensive care of geriatric individuals. This workshop built on the training basics and training for veterinary care presentations. Delegates joined round table discussion focusing on specific medical training goals, such as blood collection, physical assessment, x-ray/ultrasounds, and other training goals of interest to bear caregivers.
POST-CONFERENCE TOURS AT LEE G. SIMMONS CONSERVATION PARK AND WILDLIFE SAFARI & OMAHA'S HENRY DOORLY ZOO AND AQUARIUM
On Sunday October 9th, delegates were graciously hosted by the Lee G. Simmons Conservation Park & Wildlife Safari and Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo & Aquarium as they explored the parks. Delegates had the opportunity to view demonstrations involving enrichment and operant conditioning. Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo is currently the home to 4 species of bears: polar bear, North American black bear, Malayan sun bear, and Andean bear. Lee G. Simmons Conservation Park & Wildlife Safari is home to North American black bears.
THANK YOU TO OUR SPONSORS
Without the generous support of our sponsors, an educational conference such as this could not take place. The Bear Care Group extends their heartfelt thanks to Hauser Bears, Animals Asia, International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), and Polar Bears International for their generous and steadfast support of the Bear Care Group’s educational programs and projects. We also gratefully acknowledge Dennis Pate, the Director of Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo & Aquarium, for his generous donation of the meeting rooms and facilities for our conference, along with extending the zoo discount for catering, and the employee discount for shops, restaurants & rides to the delegates. We also wish to thank Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo & Aquarium’s AAZK Chapter for sponsoring the conference goody bags and T shirts. Thank you to both Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo Foundation and the Winton Foundation for the Welfare of Bears for sponsoring coffee breaks. We also very much appreciate donations for our silent auction and goody bags from Wildlife Toy Box, Surf Sweets, Trader Joes, and many other generous individuals, organizations, and conference delegates. We also thank Lee G. Simmons Conservation Park and Wildlife Safari and the Rainier AAZK Chapter and for their support of this conference.
THANK YOU TO OUR VOLUNTEERS
The Bear Care Group wishes to thank all of the wonderful volunteers whose energetic support has culminated in ABC 2016. We are grateful to our guest speakers, poster presenters, and moderators for sharing their expertise and experience. Thank you to all of the participants, those who have traveled from far and wide to join us, and those who live in the neighborhood. We especially wish to thank our partners at Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo & Aquarium, the staff and volunteers, for their hard work and tremendous mid-west hospitality and generosity of spirit! We thank the zoo’s Catering/Events team for their time and effort, as well as assisting us in being as environmentally conscious as possible, in everything from selection of products to waste disposal during our conference. We would specifically like to recognize the following volunteers for helping with conference planning: Wendy Hirniak (Planning), Dominic Dongilli (Proceedings), Danielle Wanies (Transportation), Beth Richmond and Samantha Gerken (Goody Bags), Kristi McGrath (T shirts), Alysia Hess (Silent Auction), Amber Marshall (Conference Logo), Carly Weber (Digital Rendering of Conference Logo), and Stephanie Huettner (Tribute Slide Show). Our conferences and workshops are powered entirely by volunteers, all of whose help we are extremely grateful for!