Social and environmental influences on pacing in a female Malayan sun bear (Helarctos malayanus)


  • Joan E Rog Cleveland Metroparks Zoo
  • Kristen E Lukas Cleveland Metroparks Zoo
  • Jason David Wark Cleveland Metroparks Zoo and Case Western Reserve University




Pacing behaviour is complex and identifying the motivational basis for pacing and designing an effective remedial strategy can be challenging.  Details of the behaviour may provide insight into the motivational basis of behaviour and should be carefully examined.  A long-term observational study of pacing by a female Malayan sun bear (Helarctos malayanus) was conducted to gather detailed information on the pacing behaviour and guide husbandry changes.   Full-day behaviour observations were conducted (n=60; mean duration=5.9 hrs/observation).  Pacing data were recorded using continuous sampling methodology with all-occurrences recording of events before and after pacing bouts.  Solitary behaviour and social interaction between the focal female and a male and female exhibit partner were recorded using instantaneous sampling and all-occurrences methodologies, respectively.  All pacing bouts occurred between tunnels to off-exhibit indoor holding areas, bouts were short in duration and variable, and pacing often began after the male bear entered a shift tunnel.  Social interactions between the two females were frequently agonistic.  Based on these findings, the non-focal female bear was removed from the group and the focal female and male were given access to indoor holding areas on most days.  The focal female only paced once when provided access to indoor holding.  When the bears did not have off-exhibit access, pacing characteristics appeared similar to bouts before modifications but pacing no longer appear to be influenced by the male’s behaviour.  Our detailed analysis of pacing by the female sun bear provided insight regarding motivation, the need for husbandry changes, and evaluation of those changes.

Author Biographies

Joan E Rog, Cleveland Metroparks Zoo

Docent and research volunteer at Cleveland Metroparks Zoo (died November 2014, please see Jason Wark for correspondance)

Kristen E Lukas, Cleveland Metroparks Zoo

Director of Conservation and Science

Jason David Wark, Cleveland Metroparks Zoo and Case Western Reserve University

Research Associate at Cleveland Metroparks Zoo.




How to Cite

Rog, J. E., Lukas, K. E., & Wark, J. D. (2015). Social and environmental influences on pacing in a female Malayan sun bear (Helarctos malayanus). Journal of Zoo and Aquarium Research, 3(4), 151–156.



Evidence Based Practice