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A note on the influence of visitors on the behaviour and welfare of zoo-housed gorillas

By D. L. Wells

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Abstract

Visitors to zoos can be a source of potential stress to some captive-housed primates. To date, the effect of the human audience on the welfare of captive gorillas has been overlooked. This study thus examined the behaviour of six zoo-housed gorillas during periods of both high and low visitor density, to establish whether there was any effect of audience numbers on the animals' well-being. Low visitor density encouraged behaviour suggestive of relaxation, with gorillas spending a significantly greater proportion of time resting. High visitor density, by contrast, encouraged significantly more intragroup aggression, stereotypies and autogrooming. The findings suggest that gorillas, like many other species of primate, are excited by high numbers of visitors.

Date 2005
Publication Title Applied Animal Behaviour Science
Volume 93
Issue 1/2
Pages 13-17
ISBN/ISSN 0168-1591
Language English
Author Address School of Psychology, Queen's University Belfast, Belfast BT7 1NN, Northern Ireland, UK. d.wells@qub.ac.uk
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Tags
  1. Animal behavior
  2. Animal rights
  3. Animal welfare
  4. Gardens
  5. Gorillas
  6. Great ape
  7. Guests
  8. Mammals
  9. peer-reviewed
  10. Primates
  11. visitors
  12. Zoo and captive wild animals
  13. Zoos
Badges
  1. peer-reviewed