Abstract # 2836 Poster # 33:

Scheduled for Thursday, June 17, 2010 07:00 PM-09:00 PM: Session 11 (Medallion Ballroom C/D/E/F) Poster Presentation


BEHAVIOR AND SPATIAL RELATIONSHIPS OF ZOO-LIVING GORILLAS (GORILLA GORILLA GORILLA) AS A FUNCTION OF NUMBER OF VISITORS PRESENT

P. R. Hanna and E. L. Zucker
Loyola University, Department of Psychology, New Orleans, LA 70118, USA
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The presence of visitors has potentially beneficial, as well as detrimental, effects on the behavior and well-being of zoo-living primates. The behavior and spatial relationships in a gorilla group exhibited outdoors at the Audubon Institute (New Orleans, LA) were studied as a function of the number of visitors present (categorized into 4 blocks: 1-10, 11-20, 21-30, and >31). The number of visitors was recorded at 5-minute intervals during hourly sessions distributed over 3 months (111 total samples), as were the behaviors of the three gorillas and their locations in the enclosure (to calculate inter-gorilla and gorilla-visitor distances). Feeding and self-grooming tended to increase as the number of visitors increased. As number of visitors increased (up to 30), two of the three gorilla dyads showed decreased inter-individual distances. The mean distance between visitors and the nearest gorilla was the smallest when <10 visitors were present and greatest when 11-20 visitors were present; the mean distance between visitors and the farthest gorilla increased as visitor size increased (up to 30), then decreased in the >31 condition. The individual gorilla nearest and farthest from visitors, across all visitor conditions, differed from chance [X2(2): P <0.05]. These results indicate that some behaviors and sociospatial patterns varied with visitor density, and that the gorillas altered their distances from visitors, perhaps regulating stimulation and/or stress.