Abstract # 149:

Scheduled for Friday, June 21, 2013 07:00 PM-09:00 PM: Session 21 (SG Foyer ABC) Poster Presentation


A BEHAVIORAL EVALUATION OF PREGNANT ZOO-HOUSED GORILLAS (GORILLA GORILLA GORILLA)

E. R. Boeving, M. A. Shender, K. E. Wagner and S. R. Ross
Lester E. Fisher Center for the Study and Conservation of Great Apes, Lincoln Park Zoo, Chicago, IL 60614, USA
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     Despite the existence of an active breeding population for several decades, there are virtually no empirical reports of how the behavior of pregnant gorillas may differ from that demonstrated by non-pregnant females. One such investigation reported significantly lower frequencies of locomotion and social behavior in pregnant zoo-housed lowland gorillas (Meder 1986). We sought to further explore the behavioral effects of pregnancy in this species, and to compare our findings with those reported over 25 years ago. We used 219.5 hours of behavioral data from 4 adult female gorillas housed in a modern, indoor-outdoor enclosure at Lincoln Park Zoo (Chicago, IL). We compared data recorded during the last four months of pregnancy to matched control periods during which subjects were not pregnant. We found no significant effect of pregnancy status in any of the behavioral categories including locomotion, social behavior, sexual behavior, or feeding behavior (all p>0.05). Unlike what is observed in wild chimpanzees, for which there is data suggesting behavioral changes occur during pregnancy (Murray et al., 2009), the lack of behavioral changes in gorillas may suggest advantages for concealing reproductive state. Our findings demonstrate a continued need for comparative research to be conducted across ape species and provide insight for managers working with breeding populations of lowland gorillas and seeking possible behavioral indicators of pregnancy.