The effects of automated scatter feeders on captive grizzly bear activity budgets

J Appl Anim Welf Sci. 2014;17(2):148-56. doi: 10.1080/10888705.2013.856767. Epub 2014 Jan 27.


Although captive bears are popular zoo attractions, they are known to exhibit high levels of repetitive behaviors (RBs). These behaviors have also made them particularly popular subjects for welfare research. To date, most research on ursid welfare has focused on various feeding methods that seek to increase time spent searching for, extracting, or consuming food. Prior research indicates an average of a 50% reduction in RBs when attempts are successful and, roughly, a 50% success rate across studies. This research focused on decreasing time spent in an RB while increasing the time spent active by increasing time spent searching for, extracting, and consuming food. The utility of timed, automated scatter feeders was examined for use with captive grizzly bears (Ursis arctos horribilis). Findings include a significant decrease in time spent in RB and a significant increase in time spent active while the feeders were in use. Further, the bears exhibited a wider range of behaviors and a greater use of their enclosure.

Publication types

  • Evaluation Study

MeSH terms

  • Animal Welfare*
  • Animals
  • Animals, Zoo / psychology*
  • Feeding Behavior*
  • Feeding Methods / instrumentation*
  • Female
  • Male
  • Ursidae / psychology*