We recently began the integration of Grillo and Jarvis using the space of three dens in the Mountain House. Grillo had to be awakened with fruit, so the new bear did not startle her. As she was moving into the middle of the three dens, Jarvis' den slide was opened and he joined Grillo in the middle den. The two bears had positive interaction immediately with lots of sniffing, small clucks, light pawing, and gentle mouthing. They were both very happy to meet another bear and as their confidence grew, so did the play!
The bears began to wrestle with one another, rolling around on the floor, exposing their bellies and investigating each others smells. They played in the same basket, sitting on top of each other, and ignored all browse and other items, as the focus was clearly on each other. They continued like this for the rest of the day, without any negative behaviours displayed, with not one open mouth, growl, huff or defensive behaviour evident.
The bears were not separated throughout the day, however, at the evening feed, the slide was closed to ensure each bear received the correct food portion, due to the huge difference in portion sizes. When both bears received their portion the slide was opened, and Grillo immediately joined Jarvis at his food pile, where they ate together comfortably and silently, face to face. For the rest of the feed, the two bears swapped piles a couple of times, and continued to eat without growls, huffs or as much as a peep! Their acceptance of each other was so total that they were kept together overnight.
The next day found both bears wrestling on the den floor, playing happily in the early morning. Grillo later retired and spent a little more time resting in her basket throughout the morning, and Jarvis was content to play with the log toy that was added to the den. Everybody is very pleased to see that Grillo is able to sleep, while Jarvis gives her space to rest, as he continues to play.
Throughout the week this pair continued to delight us with their obvious delight in each other. There has not been an instant of aggression, even at feeding time. There is still much play going on throughout the day, but it is great to see Jarvis giving Grillo the space she needs to catch up on her beauty sleep!
This has been a very successful integration, with both bears very content, and this makes us hugely optimistic about the integration into enclosures later down the line.
Grillo and Jarvis get to grips with each other with a friendly wrestling match.
Happy to meet each other, the bears continued to play throughout the day.
Jarvis is happy to amuse himself playing quietly while he waits for Grillo to re-energise after a sleep.