Abstract # 6183 Event # 149:

Scheduled for Friday, June 19, 2015 03:15 PM-03:30 PM: (Cascade E) Oral Presentation


WESTERN LOWLAND GORILLA (GORILLA GORILLA GORILLA) BIRTH PATTERNS AND HUMAN PRESENCE IN ZOOLOGICAL SETTINGS

L. M. Kurtycz and S. R. Ross
Lester E Fisher Center for the Study and Conservation of Apes, Lincoln Park Zoo, 2001 N. Clark St., Chicago, IL 60614, USA
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     There is evidence to suggest that zoo visitors can have a disruptive impact on zoo-housed animals, especially the great apes. While some consider Western lowland gorillas (Gorilla gorilla gorilla) to be particularly reactive to large crowds, the evidence of these effects is mixed, and is likely highly influenced by exhibit design and group composition. The effects of potential stressors such as human presence can be manifested in a number of ways, including the possibility of affecting the timing of births, as has been shown in laboratory-housed Callitrichids and chimpanzees. Unlike laboratories, where human presence is lowest during the weekends, we might expect human presences to peak during weekends in zoo settings, but in a study of zoo-housed chimpanzees, there were no significant differences between the number of chimpanzee births that occurred on weekdays vs. weekends (Wagner and Ross, 2008). We analyzed the timing of 359 gorilla births at accredited zoos from 1985-2012, and also found no effect of day of the week on number of births (G=0.398, p=0.52). These data add to our understanding of the potential influence of human presence on primate behavior and physiology, and add to evidence suggesting that the effects of zoo visitors on exhibited species may be less deleterious than previously assumed.