Has Niko participated in training?
We started daily training sessions with Niko as soon as he arrived in quarantine. He enthusiastically participates and seems to enjoy the one-on-one attention he receives from keepers, especially. It is extremely helpful to the animal care team that he knows behaviors that help us evaluate his health, but it also makes a visit from the vet less stressful for him.
We use positive reinforcement training with our sloth bears, which means that they always have the choice to participate in their own care. If they do, we give them a reward—usually a piece of their favorite food along with lots of verbal praise from their keepers.
Niko has learned a number of basic husbandry behaviors, such as opening his mouth so we can look at his teeth, standing up so we can see his belly, and putting his front and back paws on the mesh so we can monitor the condition of his foot pads. All of these behaviors help us to get a good look at him and ensure he is healthy and does not have any injuries.
Niko has also learned a number of complex medical behaviors such as leaning against the mesh for a voluntary injection or extending his arm out of the enclosure and into a sleeve for voluntary blood draws. The more complex the behavior, the bigger the treat! For medical behaviors, which can take more time and patience to master, he gets something very special, such as honey or peanut butter.