Gorilla Behavior Index revisited: Age, housing and behavior

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Year of Publication:
C. Kuhar, T. Stoinski, K. Lukas, T. Maple
Applied Animal Behaviour Science
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While personality and temperament assessments are becoming more common in animal science as a means for predicting behavior patterns, they are virtually unstudied in exotic animals outside of chimpanzees. We assessed behavioral profiles of 119 male gorillas using the Gorilla Behavior Index (GBI) and paired this assessment with behavior data on 25 male gorillas from our ongoing analysis of multi-male gorilla groups in North America. This comparison was made to determine if the GBI could be predictive of behavior patterns, with the hope that this could eventually be utilized to aid in the management of multi-male gorilla groups. With few exceptions, GBI factor scores were not related to age of subjects or their current housing condition. Individuals scoring high on the Extroverted factor were more likely to initiate and receive affiliative behaviors, but they were also more likely to initiate contact aggression. Those gorillas who scored high on the Dominant factor were more likely to initiate displacements and less likely to receive them. Gorillas rated as more. Fearful were less likely to initiate displacements and those rated as less Understanding were more likely to initiate non contact aggression. Two facts are evident from these data: (1) further work needs to be done to verify that the GBI is indeed assessing traits and not current behavioral states and (2) any relationships with behavior frequency are relatively weak. In addition to further exploration of the GBI we recommend other assessments to compliment the GBI to establish stronger links between subjective assessments and objective behavior patterns. If established, these short-term assessments may be combined with other historical information on these animals, such as age, rearing history, the number of animals in the group, and the design of the exhibit, to aid in forming and maintaining multi-male gorilla groups in captivity.


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