Abstract # 7996 Event # 119:

Scheduled for Saturday, August 26, 2017 04:30 PM-04:45 PM: (National Ballroom Salon A) Oral Presentation


BEHAVIORAL RESPONSES TO INEQUITY IN RESEARCH OPPORTUNITIES IN GORILLAS (GORILLA GORILLA) AND ORANGUTANS (PONGO SPP) AT THE SMITHSONIAN’S NATIONAL ZOO

E. S. Herrelko1,2, S. Vick2 and H. M. Buchanan-Smith2
1Smithsonian's National Zoo, 3001 Connecticut Ave NW, Washington, DC 20008, USA, 2University of Stirling, School of Natural Sciences - Psychology, Scotland FK9 4LA, UK
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Cognitive studies typically focus on an animal’s performance on a task. When we take into consideration behavioral responses to research activities, our understanding of the complexity of their world becomes richer. To isolate cognitive abilities from the confounding factor of group influences, individuals are often separated from their group for testing. The interactions of participants when reunited with their group can indicate if inequity of research opportunities alters social behavior. Inequity studies in non-human primates show a strong behavioral response when the value of primary reinforcers from one participant to another is unequal. To identify if gorillas and orangutans respond to inequity in research participation (and food reward) opportunities when non-participants could see or hear sessions, we compared the behavioral responses (aggressive, submissive, affiliative, and neutral) of gorillas (n=6) and orangutans (n=5) at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo during their first interaction following release from voluntary separation for research activities. Preliminary data suggest the behavior upon return to their group differed based on equity for gorillas (χ2(3)=20.42, n=113 sessions, p<.001), but not orangutans (n=34 sessions, NS). Gorilla participants initiated more affiliative behavior to conspecifics when research opportunities were unequal versus equal (χ2(1)=11.64, p<.001) and more aggressive behavior when opportunities were equal (χ2(1)=8.66, p<.01) suggesting they can identify and use behavior to mediate inequity while the more socially-independent orangutans did not. Supported by the David Bohnett Foundation.