Abstract # 38:

Scheduled for Saturday, September 19, 2009 06:30 PM-09:00 PM: Session 5 (Mission Bay Ballroom CDE) Poster Presentation


IMPACTS OF EMIGRATION IN A CAPTIVE GORILLA GROUP

C. W. Kuhar1,2, M. Maloney2, R. Phillips2 and J. McNary3
1Cleveland Metroparks Zoo, 3900 Wildlife Way, Cleveland, OH 44109, USA, 2Disney's Animal Kingdom, 3Los Angeles Zoo
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While a great deal of social behavior research has been conducted on the formation and maintenance of captive gorilla groups, little information exists on what happens to social relationships after animals are moved out of groups and into groups in other institutions. We monitored social behavior in a group of six western lowland gorillas (Gorilla g. gorilla) at Disney’s Animal Kingdom® before and after two young adult males were moved to the Los Angeles Zoo. All-occurrences of social behavior were recorded during 30-minute observations in an indoor holding area for 60 days before and after the move. When all animals were included in the analysis Wilcoxon signed rank tests [α=0.05] revealed an increase in affiliative behaviors following the move but no change in contact aggression, noncontact aggression, and displacements. However, examination of individual trends revealed that all adult animals remaining in the group, including the silverback, showed increases in contact aggression and non-contact aggression after the young adult males were transferred, indicating a period of instability. While unexpected, these findings are consistent with research on silverback succession and indicate emigrations, even from groups with tense social dynamics, may involve a period of instability and adjustment for the animals remaining in the group after individuals depart.