Brown Bears  

New Member

I'm planning on importing two captive-bred Eurasian Brown Bears from Europe this year. The male is a little over a year and the female is almost two. They are being fed on getting them a carnivore diet, with mixed in vitamins and minerals, bear biscuits, fish and fresh produce. I plan on continuing this diet. These will be my first Eurasian Brown Bears. I've worked with Cinnamon Bears, Kodiak Bears, Polar Bears and Formosan Black Bears. Idea on enclosure size? I've got a 42' x 62' x 10' enclosure for them. I've got them a variety of enrichment: Aussie Dog Zoo Bear Sam, Bear Bell, Recording Box, Tipsy Tom S and Oblong Stone. Their habitat is very natural, with grass, plants, logs and I'm in the process of building a pool for them with a waterfall. Any other ideas from people who have owned Ursus?

I should be getting them in May/June after they have a clean bill of health and are vaccinated against Canine Distemper, Rabies, Canine Adenovirus-1, Feline Panleukopenia, Equine Herpes Virus, Brucellosis, Tetanus, West Nile Fever, Calicivirus, Bluetongue Virus (free-ranging Florida Black bears showed evidence of exposure to the bluetongue virus), and Leptospirosis (like most mammals, are susceptible to leptospirosis when exposed to the organisms). After that, I'm doing to just do them yearly for Rabies and Tetanus. Personally, I'm not fond of them receiving so many vaccinations, but my vet advised me it was best for their health. Fatal cases of canine distemper do occur from time to time in bears. From time to time, a rabid bear will appear in the wild. Blood collected from wild and captive bears consistently show that a number have been exposed to canine adenovirus-1, the cause of infectious hepatitis of dogs and/or transient respiratory inflammations. The veterinarian at Chicago’s Lincoln Park Zoo brought this virus to my attention as a potential threat to bears. The EHV viruses are generally associated with horses and horse-like animals such as zebras. They usually only cause mild respiratory tract illness in those species. Blood samples from bears in Europe and North America consistently find a small portion to have had contact with Brucella organisms, the cause of brucellosis. I do not know of any reported cases of brucellosis-positive animals in zoological collections, and it remains unknown if any of the Brucella organisms are capable of causing illness in bears. Other than polar bears whose source of contact with the brucellosis organism is likely the consumption of brucellosis-positive seals; bears that are found to have been exposed to Brucella in the wild are thought to have been exposed through contact with native even-toed ungulates (cud-chewing ruminants) in their region – particularly through the consumption of placental tissue (afterbirth) and aborted fetuses. I do not know of any reported cases of tetanus in bears, wild or captive – but all mammals appear to be susceptible to tetanus to one degree or another so I suppose it could happen. West Nile Fever is caused by an arbovirus (Flavivirus) passed by infected mosquitoes. It was thought to be an African and Middle Eastern problem until 1999 when it first appeared in the Queens Borough of New York City. Besides humans, various birds at the Bronx Zoo died in this initial outbreak. The same Norwegian study that found evidence of exposure of polar bears to canine distemper also found antibodies attributed to calicivirus in 2% of the bears.

I'm planning on purchasing the carnivore diet from Nebraska Brand. I'm going to be purchasing the Classic Canine Diet. I've been getting mixed feedback on if I should add a vitamin/mineral mix to this. My veterinarian says I do, my friend at the Cincinnati Zoo says I should, but I've had others tell me that I shouldn't. Thoughts? Does Natural Balance still make their zoological formula (I can't find it online)? Ideas for veggie rotation? Fruit rotation? Best fish?


Posted : January 17, 2018 4:56 am
Admin Admin

Hopefully our bear owners will chime in with their thoughts and advice.

I own small exotics (foxes and reptiles), but I think your enclosure for one sounds absolutely fantastic. I'd love to see finished pictures or work-in-progress pictures if possible.

Welcome to the forum. It's great to have another bear enthusiast here. Smile

I'm Fable and Ifrit's mommy. Also mommy to Carousel, Breeze, and a bunch of snakes, lizards, and spiders. Oh, and one amphibian!

Posted : January 18, 2018 4:22 pm
Honorable Member Pats Friends

I like bears a lot, haven't seen any private owners of brown bears though. Would love to see some pics of their enclosure once it's done, and pics of them once they arrive! Smile
Pat has experience with black bears, not sure how different they are from brown. Maybe she'll chime in if she has the time.

5 Dogs, 2 cats, 2 leopard geckos, 1 guinea pig, 1 axolotl, and a coatimundi currently in my family. 🙂

Exotic "wishlist": red fox, arctic fox, gray fox, bat eared fox, fennec fox, mink, muntjac deer, owl (any species).

Posted : January 26, 2018 11:27 pm
Admin Admin

I don't have experience with brown bears. but, have done some research on them.
brown bears are harder to raise then black bears.

I can only base my info on black bears. as far as immunization goes, it is very rare bears get rabies. not sure why, but, they don't.
mine never had rabie shots. the only way an animal can get rabies if they are bit by a rabid animal. but, that don't always stand true with bears.
in my state, there was only 2 cases of rabies in wild bears. that was in the early 1900's

the bigger you can make their enclosure the better. the set up I have is the enclosure is split where I can lock them on one side for clean up, trim grass etc.

however, you will most likely need a top or electric at the top. they can climb if they have claws.

from what I have researched, brown bears are more aggressive than black bears. but, guess that don't always stand true.
a few years ago, I went to place where they had brown bears. they were very well trained, had them riding bicycles :shock:
guess what it all boils down to, is spending lots and lots of time with them.

however, getting them at an older age is harder to work with and bond than cubs. your bears will need time to adjust to their new environment.

a den is a must. mine have 2 dens where they have a choice to go up stairs or den on the first floor. they prefer being up high.
I have a set of iron steps for the top den.

however, you already have experience, so that should help you.

from what I understand, brown bears are more apt to eat meat than black bears. my female don't. my male (passed away a few years ago)
would eat meat, only chicken though. eggs is also their favorite.

fish is an excellent food source for bears. mine get fresh fish from my pond along with their regular diet.

please keep me updated on your progress. I would be very interested to hear more about them. Sybils Den

Posted : January 27, 2018 8:34 am
Admin Admin

There was a bear at a zoo some years back that died from rabies, it had been at a party for the zoo some nights before so they had to give everyone rabies shots.

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Posted : January 27, 2018 11:23 am
Admin Admin

There was a bear at a zoo some years back that died from rabies, it had been at a party for the zoo some nights before so they had to give everyone rabies shots.

do you know what type of bear? guess, not that it matters, but, it wouldn't hurt to have a rabie shots to be on the safe side.
sybil is 17 this year, she is very healthy. still don';t know what benny died from. I had the vet come out, but, he did not have the proper sedation to
put him under to examine him. don';t know if you remember, I posted about the white of his eyes being red. I have no idea what that meant icon-sad
it is hard to find a vet (in my area) that will treat a bear and understands how to handle them when they are sick.
my vet use to treat the animals in a zoo, so I would have thought, he would have known how to treat him. Sybils Den

Posted : January 28, 2018 6:37 am
Admin Admin

Case was older than I thought but managed to find info on it. Doesn't say it in this blurb but original story mentioned it was at a party the night before it died(I think that's when it nipped people in the blurb below).

August 27, 1999/Clermont, Iowa: A 5-6 month-old black bear cub died after several hours of acute central nervous system symptoms. Preliminary tests indicated the bear had rabies. The bear was part of the Swenson’s Wild Midwest Exotic Petting Zoo where visitors fed, wrestled, posed with, “kissed,” and may have been nipped by the bear. The bear also was taken to off-site exhibitions, where it reportedly nipped people. An estimated 400 people from 10 states and Australia had contact with the bear cub. Scores of people subsequently received rabies prevention shots. Additional testing by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention were negative for rabies.

I'm surprised it was so young. Some rabid animal must have gotten into it's enclosure, which is more likely when in outside enclosures. Certainly not a common thing with captive animals but the risk exists when kept outside. I vaccination will prevent having to worry if your animal is sick from rabies or just regular sick when he's not well.

I don't remember all that was going wrong with Benny. The red eyes might have just been cherry eye, where the membrane gets inflamed, which could have happened for a number of reasons. If the whole white areas were a solid red though it might have been due to bleeding under the "skin" of the eye, in which case he might have developed a clotting issue, so maybe a blood cancer or auto-immune issue.

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Posted : January 28, 2018 12:54 pm
Admin Admin


I know I am tired now, but, the info was a bit confusing. they claimed at first the bear had rabies, then later tested (which they cut the head off to do that) then it said, the rabies were negative :shrug:

personally, I don't think it is a good idea to let other people interact with any bears. best to be safe than sorry.

what I always thought, is the only way to get rabies is through a bite or maybe a scratch.
most stray critters will stay away from a bear. but, guess if a wild critter has rabies, who knows. Sybils Den

Posted : January 29, 2018 5:04 pm
Admin Admin

Yeah that's actually why they still have to cut the head off, the tests aren't perfect. They have to look at tissue of the brain and look for the virus in it. Depending on the samples it could be missed. The first test may have been one of the other sort which are even less accurate but not sure, would think CDC knows what they are looking for but it did have rabies like symptoms and first test was positive so I guess it's kind of uncertain.

Rabies can be contracted from any bodily fluid though does not stay alive outside the body long. Technically you could catch it from a kiss, lick or having sex if the other person/animal has it but bites are most likely. Rabies makes animals and people "go mad" so they are much more likely to attack anything, even big things, this helps the virus keep it's self alive by being spread to a new host before the current host dies. The bear's thick skin may be part of what protects them from getting rabies often as a bite has to get through that and their fur and be exposed to the nerves. A bear getting a bat nip on the ear could potentially be enough to catch it though, or if something even died in their pen with it and they ate it while fresh. Most bear enclosures are not designed to keep medium small animals out. It's not a huge risk but a serious one and a vaccination will remove that risk.

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Posted : January 29, 2018 5:19 pm
New Member

long time ago, my one coonhound (now deceased) was really into hunting. he found a really big raccoon in the corn fields, I think this raccoon had rabies.
the raccoon did not back down from my coonhound. but, my coonhound manage to grab him and kill him.
another time, him and a another coonhound found a wild raccoon on my porch. it was really kind of disgusting, they actually played tug of war with it,
needless to say, they killed the raccoon. now that I have a soft heart for raccoons, I don't want to kill any of them, but, have not seen many for awhile. last year, there was a young one, my other dogs found him, but couldn't 'get to him. the young raccoon manage to get off my property after I took the dogs in the house. however, I do agree about rabies shot for bear, best to safe than sorry.

my coonhound was a hell of a hunter. anytime he would see any predator on my property, he would certainly let me know.
he treed them and barked till hubby shot the coon or whatever predator was on the property.

my coonhounds actually protect my other animals (chickens, ducks etc) he seemed to know who belonged and who didn't belong.

my neighbor kills any raccoons or any type of predator he sees on his property. I had to call him anytime one of raccoons escaped.
only happened one time, that was from bobby (the one dana has now)

when I had larry (my first raccoon) I thought he escaped, I looked everywhere for him, called him and he never responded.
then later that day, I went into the basement and low and behold, he was sleeping on a shelve down there :roll:

Posted : February 2, 2018 6:27 am
Black Emo

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