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Kelly Strong, ANT 322: Research Methods in Primatology
Faculty Mentor: Professor Julie Wieczkowski, Anthropology
Western lowland gorillas (Gorilla gorilla gorilla) have slower life histories compared to other animals. Life history traits are flexible and can vary depending on factors such as resource availability. For this reason, captivity has a significant impact on developmental milestones like weaning and age at first reproduction. Understanding this influence on life history is key to identifying significant developmental stages, such as when a juvenile becomes a subadult. Mother-offspring relationships change drastically, particularly regarding proximity, as the offspring grows up and transitions between age classes. This study examines gorilla offspring at the Buffalo Zoo and their proximity relationships with their mothers. Additionally, this study investigates the different behaviors that gorilla offspring engage in and how this might change depending on their age and company. I observed three gorilla offspring in different age classes in order to further understand their proximity relationships with their mothers. The offspring are the subadult Amari, the juvenile Nyah and the nursing infant Kayin. They are nine, six and three years old, respectively. Data was collected using a 30-minute focal animal sample, followed by a 10-minute ad lib/break. My results show that Kayin spent the most time in proximity to his mother and Amari spent the least time in proximity to her mother. For the greatest percentage of time, Amari did not have a nearest neighbor. Kayin's nearest neighbor was usually his mother. Kayin also engaged in the widest variety of behaviors while in proximity to his mother and Amari engaged in the least.
Strong, Kelly, "Proximity Relationships Between Gorilla Mothers and Their Offspring" (2020). Physical Geography and Sciences. 22nd Annual Student Research and Creativity Conference. SUNY Buffalo State.