FOUR PAWS aims to provide a good life to rescued bears, by striving to ensure the highest possible animal welfare. Welfare is a volatile and multifaceted state experienced by the animal. As such, assessing the welfare of an individual requires the evaluation of both the animal’s health and behaviour, and its environment.
FOUR PAWS rescues bears in need and ensures highest possible welfare within its sanctuaries. Using the BearWell tool, we aim to continuously assess and improve the welfare of the bears in our care.
Welfare assessment protocols that take into account both resource-based and animal-based measures have been developed for farm animals and have recently started to be developed for wild animals. To date, there is no scientifically validated protocol to assess the welfare of brown bears under human care. The goal of the BearWell project to develop animal-based measures that will further be included in a protocol for ongoing welfare assessment of the brown bears in FOUR PAWS sanctuaries. While this will be initially useful in ensuring the highest possible welfare standards for the bears housed in FOUR PAWS sanctuaries, it will also be available for the scientific community to apply in other brown bear keeping systems. The ongoing project is conducted by the FOUR PAWS Science Unit under the supervision of an animal welfare expert.