The benefits of enrichment and proper husbandry protocols and their applicability in wildlife research have been important topics of zoological research. Examining activity budgets of various species throughout zoological facilities reap biological, educational and conservation benefits. We collected data on the behavioral responses of five western lowland gorillas (Gorilla gorilla gorilla) (1 adult male, 2 adult females, 2 infants/juveniles) to a novel climbing structure in the outdoor enclosure at the Philadelphia Zoo. Over a period of 53 nonconsecutive months, we conducted 30-minute focals with 2-minute scan samples on the gorillas (488 total observation hours). We recorded frequency of behaviors for each gorilla (e.g., playing, foraging, traveling, resting), variations of those behaviors between indoor and outdoor, and general outdoor use. Our results suggest that, on average, the troop increased general outdoor usage by 37%, indoor foraging by 11%, and outdoor regurgitation and reingestion by 19%. The troop also decreased outdoor foraging by 17% and sedentary behaviors by 12%. Zoological facilities invest in enrichment, with the hope of satisfying captive species’ biological needs. Our data suggest that the novel climbing structure at the Philadelphia Zoo provided an important enrichment opportunity for specific gorillas, while it may not have been particularly useful for other gorillas, suggesting there are individual differences. Additional comparisons at other zoos would expand this research and further offer critical insight into the enrichment needs of captive gorilla populations.
Perretti, A., & Chancellor, R. (2021). Effects of Artificial Enrichment for Captive Western Lowland Gorilla (Gorilla gorilla gorilla) Activity Budgets. Retrieved from https://digitalcommons.wcupa.edu/anthrosoc_stuwork/2