CZAAWE Resource Article

Integration of Hand-Reared Gorillas Into Breeding Groups
Publication Type 
Journal Article
Year of publication 
Zoo Biology
Many zoo-born gorillas must still be hand-reared and sooner or later be associated with conspecifics in a breeding group. In this study the introduction and integration of 5 hand-reared infants at 3 zoos was observed for 2 to 4 years. Results showed that introductions proceed more smoothly if infants are first introduced to a calm and socially competent adult female. Infants should not be much older than 1 year at the start of integration, in order to allow for “adoption.” Adopting females facilitate acceptance by the rest of the group. Problems frequently arise during introductions because of aggressiveness of silverbacks and the social incompetence of hand-reared individuals. Immature animals may react aggressively to the presence of adults, especially silverbacks, and thus delay the progress of integration. They should be introduced to adults as early as possible in order to facilitate the learning of essential social skills.