Abstract # 152:

Scheduled for Friday, August 19, 2005 07:00 PM-09:00 PM: (Cambridge/Oxford Room) Poster Presentation

Auditory enrichment for zoo-housed Gorillas (Gorilla Gorilla Gorilla)

D. L. Wells, D. Coleman and P. G. Hepper
Queen's University Belfast, School of Psychology, Queen's University Belfast, Belfast, N.Ireland BT7 1NN, United Kingdom
     School of Psychology, Queen's University Belfast, Belfast BT7 1NN, N. Ireland, UK Auditory stimulation has long been employed as therapy for humans and animals housed in institutions. Its effect on captive gorillas, however, remains unknown. We explored the influence of auditory stimulation on the behavior of 6 western lowland gorillas housed in Belfast Zoo. All animals were exposed to 3 conditions of auditory stimulation: a control (no auditory stimulation), an ecologically relevant condition (rainforest sounds) and an ecologically non-relevant condition (classical music). Each condition lasted for 4 hours a day for 10 days. The gorillas' behavior was recorded every 5 minutes for 4 hours per day for each condition using scan-sampling. There was no significant effect (P > 0.05) of auditory stimulation on the gorillas' behavior, although there was a pronounced trend for animals to show more behaviors suggestive of relaxation during the ecologically relevant, and, in particular, the non-relevant, conditions, than the control. Animals spent more time (in minutes) resting, sitting and socializing during the ecologically relevant (89.66 ± 25.96; 201.33 ± 36.54; 12.33 ± 6.54) and non-relevant (99.33 ± 23.87; 202.67 ± 33.66; 13.67 ± 6.54) conditions, than the control (89.67 ± 25.96; 176.33 ± 35.83; 11.00 ± 4.75), and less time exhibiting aggression and abnormal behaviors during the ecologically relevant (4.33 ± 2.84; 14.33 ± 10.39) and non-relevant (2.33 ± 1.66; 12.00 ± 10.08) conditions than the control (5.33 ± 3.17; 18.67 ± 11.76). Results suggest that gorillas are influenced by their auditory environment, albeit to a moderate degree, and that classical music may, as for other species, hold benefits for psychological well-being. Supported by the British Psychological Society.