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Captive Bear Workshops to be Held at The 20th International Conference on Bear Research & Management (Ottawa, Canada)

On July 17th – July 23rd bear biologists from around the world will convene in Ottawa, Canada for the 20th International Conference on Bear Research & Management.  The week-long meeting includes key-note addresses by Ian Stirling and Stephen Herrero– two distinguished, veteran bear biologists. The conference is hosted by the International Association for Bear Research & Management (IBA) . For more...

On July 17th – July 23rd bear biologists from around the world will convene in Ottawa, Canada for the 20th International Conference on Bear Research & Management.  The week-long meeting includes key-note addresses by Ian Stirling and Stephen Herrero– two distinguished, veteran bear biologists. The conference is hosted by the International Association for Bear Research & Management (IBA) . For more information please visit the following link

(Contact person – Martyn Obbard (Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources))

The conference caters to field biologists, however, the following workshops and meetings will address captive bear management and research:  

  • Facilitating collaborative partnerships to improve bear research, conservation, and husbandry of captive and free-ranging bears

    Evening Session – Thursday July 21
    Contact person: Russ Van Horn (San Diego Zoo)

  • This workshop has two goals: First, to highlight the opportunities and challenges of collaboration and information exchange between people working in research, conservation, and husbandry of bears, whether captive or free-ranging. Second, to craft a plan for how the IBA, AZA and other institutions and organizations can facilitate this type of collaboration and communication.

    The intended audience is field researchers, especially those working on species outside of North America, and representatives of zoos. During this workshop panelists will use several case studies to illustrate the power of collaboration between field researchers and those studying captive bears, followed by a discussion of the challenges to these and other collaborations and how institutions, perhaps including the IBA and zoological associations, might help mitigate these challenges to facilitate collaboration and improve bear research, conservation, and husbandry.

  • Large enclosures for captive bears

    Morning Session – Saturday July 23
    Contact persons: Jordan Schaul & Steve Mendive  (Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center); and Agnieszka Sergiel (University of Wroclaw)

  • The Large Bear Enclosure Working Group evolved out of discussion concerning an emerging trend among the designers and managers of bear sanctuaries in Eurasia. More and more facilities are being built using a model from large, enclosed, semi-natural facilities to house rescued bears in high densities. The stressors placed on bears, such as human encroachment and habitat loss, have made it almost a necessity to place many individual animals in large enclosures in relatively large group sizes. In North America and in Western Europe, the construction of these large facilities for housing rescue animals has grown in popularity. In many cases the enclosures are being designed to replicate the semi-natural habitats for high density enclosures in Eurasia, but often with the intention to house fewer individual bears than what is found in sanctuaries and rescue centers around the world.

    In these enclosures it is possible to manage the bears less intensively from a husbandry standpoint, allowing husbandry and health personnel to focus attention on enrichment, husbandry training, and socialization of small groups of captive bears (e.g., conspecifics and different species) while focusing less time on sanitation and disinfection and other husbandry practices.

    In an effort to strengthen communication among large bear enclosure managers, we endeavour to develop a consortium of institutions that house bears in ‘ habitats’ that fit the criteria of large bear enclosures (to be discussed) and other interested parties. The purpose of the working group is to provide a forum for information exchange and advice regarding the husbandry and management of these animals held in expansive exhibit or off-exhibit enclosures. We hope to provide husbandry parameters and some suggested guidelines for managing bears in these facilities.

    -Captive Bear Specialist Group Members of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature’s Bear Specialist Group (BSG) will also be in attendance at BSG meetings in conjunction with the IBA conference.

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    Meet the Author

    Author Photo Jordan Carlton Schaul
    With training in wildlife ecology, conservation medicine and comparative psychology, Dr. Schaul's contributions to Nat Geo Voices have covered a range of environmental and social topics. He draws particular attention to the plight of imperiled species highlighting issues at the juncture or nexus of sorta situ wildlife conservation and applied animal welfare. Sorta situ conservation practices are comprised of scientific management and stewardship of animal populations ex situ (in captivity / 'in human care') and in situ (free-ranging / 'in nature'). He also has a background in behavior management and training of companion animals and captive wildlife, as well as conservation marketing and digital publicity. Jordan has shared interviews with colleagues and public figures, as well as editorial news content. In addition, he has posted narratives describing his own work, which include the following examples: • Restoration of wood bison to the Interior of Alaska while (While Animal Curator at Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center and courtesy professor at the University of Alaska) • Rehabilitation of orphaned sloth bears exploited for tourists in South Asia (While executive consultant 'in-residence' at the Agra Bear Rescue Center managed by Wildlife SOS) • Censusing small wild cat (e.g. ocelot and margay) populations in the montane cloud forests of Costa Rica for popular publications with 'The Cat Whisperer' Mieshelle Nagelschneider • Evaluating the impact of ecotourism on marine mammal population stability and welfare off the coast of Mexico's Sea of Cortez (With Boston University's marine science program) Jordan was a director on boards of non-profit wildlife conservation organizations serving nations in Africa, North and South America and Southeast Asia. He is also a consultant to a human-wildlife conflict mitigation organization in the Pacific Northwest. Following animal curatorships in Alaska and California, he served as a charter board member of a zoo advocacy and outreach organization and later as its executive director. Jordan was a member of the Communication and Education Commission of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (CEC-IUCN) and the Bear Specialist Group of the IUCN Species Survival Commission (BSG-SSC-IUCN). He has served on the advisory council of the National Wildlife Humane Society and in service to the Bear Taxon Advisory Group of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA Bear TAG). In addition he was an ex officio member of council of the International Association for Bear Research and Management. Contact Email: