Abstract # 4440 Poster # 61:

Scheduled for Thursday, June 20, 2013 07:00 PM-09:00 PM: Session 9 (SG Foyer ABC) Poster Presentation


POTENTIAL FACTORS ASSOCIATED WITH STEREOTYPED EAR-COVERING BEHAVIOR IN AN ADOLESCENT MALE GORILLA (GORILLA GORILLA GORILLA)

M. H. Brown, M. A. Shender, K. E. Wagner and S. R. Ross
Lester E. Fisher Center for the Study and Conservation of Apes, Lincoln Park Zoo, Chicago, IL 60614, USA
line
     Ear-covering is an abnormal behavior that has been observed in all four great ape species in captivity, but has never been documented in wild populations. Due to the fact abnormal behaviors tend to develop and manifest themselves on an individual level that differs across conspecifics, these behaviors are often difficult to characterize and manage. To examine the potential environmental influences on ear-covering in captive lowland gorillas, we utilized a case study of one individual over a 16-month period, from onset of the behavior to transfer out of his natal group. Ear-covering was never observed to be demonstrated by the young gorilla until 5.6 years of age, when he subsequently began exhibiting the behavior approximately 6% of his waking time. Using a long term behavioral data set, we investigated the relationship between the subject’s display of ear-covering and three environmental variables: access to outdoor space, zoo visitor density and a change in habitat. A three-factor ANOVA was run, revealing no effect of outdoor access (F(1,511)=0.844, p=0.359), crowd size (F(1,511)=1.197, p=0.274) nor exhibit (F(1,511)=3.63, p=0.057), and we concluded that for this particular subject these oft-proposed factors do not appear to significantly influence the expression of ear-covering. Negative results such as these are useful to narrow possible factors and may lead to opportunities to further understand the etiology of complex and variable behaviors such as ear-covering.