Foraging in a social setting: a comparative analysis of captive gorillas and chimpanzees.


Lester E. Fisher Center for the Study and Conservation of Apes, Lincoln Park Zoo, Chicago, IL, USA. [Email]


This study was designed to investigate the foraging behavior of zoo-housed western lowland gorillas (Gorilla gorilla gorilla) and compare it with that of zoo-housed chimpanzees (Pan trogloydytes) tested previously in a similar paradigm. Specifically, we aimed to document how a group of zoo-housed gorillas foraged within a familiar environment to discover novel food sources and whether they sought out more preferred foods, even if they had to travel further to reach them, as they do in the wild. Gorillas were provided plastic tokens to exchange with researchers at two locations-at the same location as the tokens (close) for carrot pieces and another 6.5 m away (far) for grapes. Over the course of 30 sessions, a single individual-the silverback male-accounted for 96% of the 1546 tokens exchanged, all of which took place at the far location. Inter-individual distance measures collected during each session, as well as during matched control sessions, showed that while both gorillas and chimpanzees express similar patterns of social association across the two conditions, the average dyadic association for chimpanzees was stronger than that for gorillas. Together, these findings provide an example of the value of employing identical methodologies to compare cognition and behavior across species as well highlight the importance of the social context in which studies take place.


Behavioral economics,Decision making,Social learning,Token exchange,

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