Are Bears Really Anti-Social?

Bears are generally thought of as strictly anti-social, solitary animals, but this is not correct. Habitat impediments, such as range size, prevent bears from interacting with each other very often in the wild. When they do meet competition for food or a mate can result in an encounter that is rather hostile. However, when competition for food or a mate is absent, bears have been known to strike up friendly relationships with each other and have even been observed playing together for long periods of time. This play typically takes the form of wrestling matches. Such play behaviour is often interpreted as aggression when it’s just two bears deciding to have some fun.

BearsWrestling

It’s true that bears do not live in herds or packs, but they can and do co-exist in close proximity to each other where food sources are plentiful and their numbers high. They will share home ranges with other bears by establishing a social hierarchy based on size, age and disposition. A bear will establish and maintain its place in the hierarchy by posturing or acting aggressively. In most cases these exhibitions of aggression do not escalate to a full-fledged altercation against another individual with the less dominant bear eventually backing down.

The stone structure located in Marineland's Bear Country is quite large and contains many caves and tunnels providing the bears with shade and protection from bad weather.

The stone structure located in Marineland’s Bear Country is quite large and contains many caves and tunnels providing the bears with shade and protection from bad weather.

To go from living solitary to living social shows the ability of the bear to adapt its behaviour based on changes to its environment.

Contrary to popular belief, the solitary bear is not SO solitary.

Marine Mammal Enrichment

Enriching the lives of our marine mammals is an integral part of animal care at Marineland and is as important as the nutrition and medical care that they receive. The act of providing stimulating and challenging environments, toys and activities for the animals is called enrichment. The benefits to the animals are many and include, but are not limited to, mental stimulation, physical activity and promotion of the animal’s natural behaviours like exploring, foraging and diving.

Ice Toy 1Ice Toy 3Ice Toy 2Generally, we divide enrichment into two main types: Environmental Enrichment Devices (EED) like toys, balls and brushes and Environmental Enrichment Activities (EEA) like giving a whale a full body water massage with a sprayer hose or playing peek-a-boo at the underwater glass. Who knew aluminum foil could be used like this!

Peek-A-Boo 1Smooshi PeekingSonja & Joce 2Sonja & Joce 1Sometimes, enrichment can actually be both a device and an activity – such as using a long-handled brush (a device) to rub the pectoral fins of a whale (an activity). Even feeding, training or husbandry procedures are viewed as enrichment activities and are treated in that manner so that we can make such activities exciting and stimulating for the animal.

Within each species there are wide ranges of individual preferences on what an animal enjoys, just like humans. Our caregivers devote a great deal of time and effort to get to know individual animals’ preferences in order to create activities and design devices that will engage and enthrall an animal.

When deciding if an EEA or EED is acceptable to use, the safety of the animal is paramount. In the case of EEDs several criteria need to be considered. Does the object have any rough edges? Is it sturdy enough to withstand salt, cold temperatures or the pounding from a 4,500 kg animal? Is it made of safe material? All of these questions and more are taken into account by our marine mammal care team. Marineland has an enrichment craftsman in our carpenter shop who can work with our marine mammal care team to design and build various EEDs as in some cases a suitable device just can’t be found at a store.

Enhancing the lives of the animals in our care is our top priority and enrichment plays a key role in helping us achieve that goal.

Field Trip? Let’s Go!

There are countless opportunities to learn at Marineland, but did you know you can make it part of the curriculum outcomes for students from grades one through eight?

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Quit Bearin’ Around!

Just like Marineland, black bears go dormant through the winter. But that doesn’t mean either one stops being active altogether. We continue to feed our bears throughout the winter months to help ensure they’re vibrant and healthy when spring arrives. Continue reading

A Bison or a Buffalo?

If you want to see the potential damaging effects humans can have on animal populations – and the important role conservation efforts can have to reverse them – just take a look at the North American bison.

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Cet-a-what now?

When it comes to Marineland’s marine mammals, it’s important to get them in the right order. For our whales and dolphins, that order is Cetacea.

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Our Four Legged Friends

What’s the most surprising thing you’ve seen at Marineland? Everyone knows us for our marine mammals and our great amusement rides, but many are surprised to encounter some of our four legged friends as well.

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The Art of Multitasking…

If you think keeping your home clean is tough, just imagine having to take care of a home filled with all our marine mammals and other animal friends! The challenge in maintaining so many diverse habitats is incredible, and one we take very seriously.

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The Star of the Show

They are some of the biggest stars at Marineland, but they’re quite humble about it. Smooshi, Apollo, Zeus, and the others are happy to get their pictures taken, regularly entertaining crowds at King Waldorf’s Stadium. It’s hard not to love walruses.

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They’ll Earn your Seal of Approval!

Found along the shores of the north Atlantic from New Jersey to Norway, Grey Seals have a strong population that’s growing in numbers. The largest colony in the world is located at Sable Island in Nova Scotia, but you don’t have to visit that remote location to see these playful creatures.

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