CZAAWE Resource Article

Managing the Socialization of an Adult Male Gorilla (Gorilla gorilla gorilla) With a History of Social Deprivation
Publication Type 
Journal Article
Year of publication 
Zoo Biology
Most non-human primates exhibit aggression during changes in social group composition. In zoological parks, group membership changes are necessary for optimal population management, but can elicit problematic aggression. Furthermore, some primates with a long history of social deprivation are hyperaggressive when introduced to conspecifics. In this study of one male gorilla with a 30-year history of social deprivation, we assessed the rate of aggression quantitatively during a four-step socialization procedure. We hypothesized that 1) the frequency of agonistic/display behaviors would increase markedly at the beginning of each phase of the socialization, then decline to baseline levels over time in each phase and 2) the frequency of affiliative behaviors would not vary systematically within or between phases of socialization. Our results largely supported these predictions, and we found the four-step socialization process effective in managing aggression in this case. In addition to documenting the successful socialization of a socially deprived adult male gorilla, we believe that the empirical process used in this case argues for scientific management of other introductions.