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A note on the effect of auditory stimulation on the behaviour and welfare of zoo-housed gorillas

By D. L. Wells, D. Coleman, M. G. Challis

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Abstract

Auditory stimulation has long been employed as a form of therapy for humans and animals housed in institutions. Its effect on one of our closest-living relatives, the gorilla, however, is largely unknown. This study explored the effect of auditory stimulation on the behaviour and welfare of six gorillas housed in Belfast Zoo. All animals were exposed to three conditions of auditory stimulation: a control (no auditory stimulation), an ecologically relevant condition (rain forest sounds) and an ecologically non-relevant condition (classical music). The gorillas' behaviour was recorded in each condition using a scan-sampling technique. There was no significant effect of the auditory environment on the gorillas' behaviour, although animals tended to show more behaviours suggestive of relaxation (i.e. resting, sitting) and fewer behaviours typically associated with stress (i.e. aggression, abnormal behaviour) during the ecologically relevant, and, in particular, the non-relevant, conditions than the control. Overall, findings suggest that certain types of auditory stimulation may hold some merit as a method of enrichment for zoo-housed gorillas, although more long-term work with a larger number of animals is needed before firm conclusions can be drawn.

Date 2006
Publication Title Applied Animal Behaviour Science
Volume 100
Issue 3/4
Pages 327-332
ISBN/ISSN 0168-1591
Language English
Author Address Canine Behaviour Centre, School of Psychology, Queen's University Belfast, Belfast BT7 1NN, Northern Ireland, UK. d.wells@qub.ac.uk
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Tags
  1. Aggression
  2. Animal behavior
  3. Animal rights
  4. Animal welfare
  5. British Isles
  6. Commonwealth of Nations
  7. Developed countries
  8. Europe
  9. Gorillas
  10. Great ape
  11. Great Britain
  12. Hearing
  13. Mammals
  14. OECD countries
  15. peer-reviewed
  16. Primates
  17. rest
  18. stimuli
  19. United Kingdom
  20. Zoo and captive wild animals
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  1. peer-reviewed