Abstract # 106:

Scheduled for Saturday, September 17, 2011 07:00 PM-09:00 PM: Session 14 (Salon G (Sixth Floor)) Poster Presentation


BEHAVIORAL EFFECTS OF PROVIDING A CHOICE FOR OUTDOOR ACCESS TO CAPTIVE GORILLAS (GORILLA GORILLA GORILLA)

L. M. Kurtycz1,2, K. E. Wagner1, S. R. Ross1 and E. V. Lonsdorf1,2
1Lester E. Fisher Center for the Study and Conservation of Apes, Lincoln Park Zoo, 2001 N Clark Street, Chicago, IL 60614, USA, 2University of Chicago, Chicago IL, 60637
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     Outside access for captive primates is often assumed to influence behavior, though empirical results are far from conclusive. Along with the benefits of accessing outdoor spaces, the mere choice to access those spaces may be beneficial. To date, no studies have directly addressed the potential importance of providing captive apes with the choice to access enclosure areas. This question may be particularly relevant for gorillas, which recent literature suggests show a minimal use of outdoor enclosures. To examine the influence of providing area-choice to gorillas, observers collected focal behavioral data in 10 minute sessions with 30-s scanning intervals, which included the focal’s current location in the exhibit (indoor vs. outdoor). For our analysis, we compared sessions in which gorillas (N=9) were locked indoors to those in which they had outdoor access but stayed inside for the entire session. Females and juveniles (>5 yrs) showed higher levels of inactivity when they had outdoor access (F(1,12)=6.8, p=0.02), and higher levels of locomotion (F(1,12)=7.9, p=0.02) and feeding (F(1,12)=8.9, p=0.01) when they did not. The observed activity increase during locked-in periods is consistent with increased arousal levels, which may stem from a lack of dispersal opportunity or increased incidental social interactions. While these results suggest that the choice to utilize outdoor spaces has a relatively limited effect on captive gorilla behavior, future studies may shed light on this question.