Bernstein‐Kurtycz, L. M., Wiatroski, K. G., Leeds, A. et al. 2022. About pace: How variations in method and definition affect quantification of pacing in bears. Zoo Biology 41(4), 365-372.
Repetitive pacing behavior is exhibited by many species in zoos and is particularly prevalent in carnivores with large home ranges, such as bears. Pacing can be a behavioral indicator of poor welfare, however, understanding this behavior can be challenging. As many bears that pace are singly housed, efforts to systematically examine and ameliorate pacing may be strengthened by multi-institutional studies. However, there is currently no standardized method to quantify pacing, which makes cross-institutional analyses of causal factors and intervening measures challenging. The purpose of this study was to compare multiple sampling methods and definitions for quantifying pacing in bears to understand how they affect outcome measures. We analyzed video recordings of two grizzly and two black bears pacing, using three sampling methods (continuous, instantaneous 30-s interval, instantaneous 1-min interval), and three definitions of pacing (AB—two repetitions of the path, ABA—three repetitions, ABAB—four repetitions). A generalized linear mixed model revealed that continuous and instantaneous 30-s interval methods captured more pacing than instantaneous 1-min methods, and definitions captured a decreasing amount of pacing from AB to ABA to ABAB. AB also captured the highest number of pacing bouts. The importance of comparability across institutions is growing, and a standard methodology and definition for recording pacing would be useful. We suggest that the combination of instantaneous sampling and the ABA definition presents a good balance between capturing the right data and being flexible enough for a variety of institutions to implement.