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A case study of primiparous maternal and infant gorilla ( Gorilla gorilla gorilla ) behavior

By J. Y. Crosby, K. E. Lukas

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A primiparous mother and her infant were subjects of a longitudinal behavioral study at Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago, Illinois. From November 1998 to November 1999, we collected a total of 100 hr of focal nonhuman animal instantaneous point sampling and all occurrence data on the mother and her infant. After 8 months, we introduced the 4-member focal group to an 8-member gorilla group, thus providing an opportunity to study the effect of the introduction on mother-infant behavior. Overall, time the pair spent physically apart was notably high with contact and proximate scores steadily decreasing over time. The infant was largely responsible for maintaining social proximity, rarely leaving the mother and frequently approaching her. In contrast, the mother left the infant frequently and approached the infant minimally. Maternal affiliative and nonaffiliative behaviors fluctuated throughout the study. Over time, both decreased. Despite a precarious maternal relationship, infant developmental trends were typical for captive gorillas. The results of this study suggest that allowing flexibility in judging maternal conduct can be of benefit to successful gorilla husbandry.

Publication Title Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science
Volume 7
Issue 3
Pages 145-162
ISBN/ISSN 1088-8705
Publisher Taylor & Francis
DOI 10.1207/s15327604jaws0703_1
Language English
Author Address Department of Biology, Northeastern Illinois University, Lincoln Park Zoo, Chicago, Illinois,
Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  1. Animal behavior
  2. Animals
  3. Behavior and behavior mechanisms
  4. Gorillas
  5. Great ape
  6. Mammals
  7. Maternal behavior
  8. Maternal recognition
  9. peer-reviewed
  10. Primates
  11. vertebrates
  12. Zoo and captive wild animals
  1. peer-reviewed