Advertisement

Primates

pp 1–6 | Cite as

Water games by mountain gorillas: implications for behavioral development and flexibility—a case report

  • Raquel CostaEmail author
  • Misato Hayashi
  • Michael A. Huffman
  • Gladys Kalema-Zikusoka
  • Masaki Tomonaga
News and Perspectives

Abstract

Functions of play, which may be performed solo or in a social context, include motor training and behavioral flexibility. Play is often more common in infancy and the juvenile period, although it also occurs in adults of many species. In contrast to social play, few studies have investigated solitary play. Here, we present new empirical data on solitary water play in a subadult and two adult mountain gorillas in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, Uganda, observed on three different days between January and February 2018. Focal sampling was used to record the behavior of the individuals interacting with water. Movements included vigorous rotation of the arms, splashing the water, tilting the head, making a play face, and sweeping with the hands to create waves on the water surface. One of the episodes represents the first vigorous display of splashing water ever reported for Bwindi gorillas. Our observations highlight three significant components of mountain gorilla development and behavior: play, behavioral flexibility, and exploration.

Keywords

Solitary play Water interactions Mountain gorillas Exploration Behavioral flexibility 

Notes

Acknowledgements

This study was funded by the Leading Graduate Program in Primatology and Wildlife Science, Kyoto University, by a Grants-in-Aid for Scientific Research from Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS) (MEXT KAKENHI) #16H06283 to Tetsuro Matsuzawa, #15H05709 to Masaki Tomonaga, and by JSPS Core-to-Core A. Advanced Research Networks to Tetsuro Matsuzawa. A special appreciation to Prof. Tetsuro Matsuzawa, Prof. Fred Bercovitch, Prof. Colin Chapman, Dr. Angela Brandao, and Dr. Lilly Arajova for their support and helpful comments. We are very grateful to Conservation Through Public Health staff members and volunteers. Our deep gratitude goes to the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) and the Uganda National Council for Science and Technology for giving permission to conduct this research. We are forever in doubt to UWA trackers for their patience and help during the field work. We also thankful to the Buhoma and Mukuno local community for their hospitality. Two anonymous referees provided very valuable comments for improving this manuscript.

References

  1. Altmann J (1974) Observational study of behavior: sampling methods. Behaviour 49:227–266CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Bakeman R, Brownlee JR (1980) The strategic use of parallel play: a sequential analysis. Child Dev 3:873–878CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Beck A (1991) Phase 2: National Zoo, Gorilla Research Project In: Baker A, Beck BB, Bennett C, duBois T, Cox C, Gold K, Fernandes D., Glick C, Porton I, Mellen J (eds) Collection of Gorilla Ethograms. Available online July 1st 2019: http://pin.primate.wisc.edu/aboutp/behavior/gorillas2.html. Accessed 1 July 2019
  4. Behncke I (2015) Play in the Peter Pan ape. Curr Biol 25(1):R24–R27CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Beresin AR, Farley-Rambo K (2018) Play signals, play moves: a gorilla critique of play theory. Int J Play 7:322–337CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Berghänel A, Schülke O, Ostner J (2015) Locomotor play drives motor skill acquisition at the expense of growth: a life history trade-off. Sci Adv 1(7):e1500451CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Breuer T, Ndoundou-Hockemba M, Fishlock V (2005) First observation of tool use in wild gorillas. PLoS Biol 3(11):e380CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Brown SG (1988) Play behaviour in lowland gorillas: age differences, sex differences, and possible functions. Primates 29:219–228CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Brown SG, Dunlap WP, Maple TL (1982) Notes on water-contact by a captive male lowland gorilla. Zoo Biol 1:243–249CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Burghardt GM (2010) The comparative reach of play and brain: perspective, evidence, and implications. Am J Play 2:338–356Google Scholar
  11. Byers JA, Walker C (1995) Refining the motor training hypothesis for the evolution of play. Am Nat 146:25–40CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Cordoni G, Norscia I, Bobbio M, Palagi E (2018) Differences in play can illuminate differences in affiliation: a comparative study on chimpanzees and gorillas. PLoS One 13(3):e0193096CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Eckardt W, Steklis HD, Steklis NG, Fletcher AW, Stoinski TS, Weiss A (2014) Personality dimensions and their behavioral correlates in wild Virunga mountain gorillas (Gorilla beringei beringei). J Comp Psychol 129:26CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Fagen R (1993) Primate juveniles and primate play. In: Pereira ME, Fairbanks LA (eds) Juvenile primates. Oxford University Press, New York, pp 182–196Google Scholar
  15. Fay J, Agnagna M, Moore J, Oko R (1989) Gorillas (Gorilla gorilla gorilla) in the Likouala swamp forests of north central Congo: preliminary data on populations and ecology. Int J Primatol 10:477–486CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Fletcher AW (1994) The social development of immature mountain gorillas (Gorilla gorilla beringei), Doctoral dissertation. University of Bristol, BristolGoogle Scholar
  17. Forss SI, Koski SE, van Schaik CP (2017) Explaining the paradox of neophobic explorers: the social information hypothesis. Int J Primatol 38:799–822CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Genty E, Breuer T, Hobaiter C, Byrne RW (2009) Gestural communication of the gorilla (Gorilla gorilla): repertoire, intentionality and possible origins. Anim Cogn 12(3):527–546CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Golding RR (1972) A gorilla and chimpanzee exhibit at the University of Ibadan Zoo. Int Zoo Yearb 12:71–76CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Gomez JC (1999) Development of sensorimotor intelligence in infant gorillas: the manipulation of objects in problem-solving and exploration. In: Parker ST, Mitchell RW, Miles HL (eds) The mentalities of gorillas and orangutans: comparative perspectives. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, pp 160–178CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Gomez JC, Martin-Andrade B (2002) Possible precursors of pretend play in nonpretend actions of captive gorillas (Gorilla gorilla). In: Mitchell RW (ed) Pretending and imagination in animals and children. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, pp 255–268CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Gottlieb J, Oudeyer P, Lopes M, Baranes A (2013) Information-seeking, curiosity, and attention: computational and neural mechanisms. Trends Cogn Sci 17:585–593CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Hawley CR (2015) Self-handicapping play in mountain gorillas (Gorilla beringei beringei): how play stimulates emotional regulation, Dissertation. University of Arizona, TucsonGoogle Scholar
  24. Hoff MP, Nadler RD, Maple TL (1981) The development of infant play in a captive group of lowland gorillas (Gorilla gorilla gorilla). Am J Primatol 1(1):65–72CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Hughes RN (1997) Intrinsic exploration in animals: motives and measurement. Behav Process 41(3):213–226CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Maestripieri D, Ross SR (2004) Sex differences in play among western lowland gorilla (Gorilla gorilla gorilla) infants: implications for adult behavior and social structure. Am J Phys Anthropol 123:52–61CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Marks KA, Vizconde DL, Gibson ES, Rodriguez JR, Nunes S (2017) Play behavior and responses to novel situations in juvenile ground squirrels. J Mammal 98:1202–1210CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Matsusaka T, Nishie H, Shimada M, Kutsukake N, Zamma K, Nakamura M, Nishida T (2006) Tool-use for drinking water by immature chimpanzees of Mahale: prevalence of an unessential behavior. Primates 47:113–122CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Miller LJ (2017) Creating a common terminology for play behavior to increase cross-disciplinary research. Learn Behav 45:330–334CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Montgomery SH (2014) The relationship between play, brain growth and behavioural flexibility in primates. Anim Behav 90:281–286CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Nahallage C, Huffman M (2007) Acquisition and development of stone handling behavior in infant Japanese macaques. Behaviour 144:1193–1215CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Nowell AA (2005) Behavioural development in wild western lowland gorillas (Gorilla gorilla gorilla). PhD dissertation. University of Liverpool, LiverpoolGoogle Scholar
  33. Palagi E (2018) Not just for fun! Social play as a springboard for adult social competence in human and non-human primates. Behav Ecol Sociobiol 72:90CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Palagi E, Fouts HN (2016) Motivation of play: from ethological to neurological perspectives. Behaviour 153:655–662CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Palagi E, Antonacci D, Cordoni G (2007) Fine-tuning of social play in juvenile lowland gorillas (Gorilla gorilla gorilla). Dev Psychobiol 49:433–445CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Parker ST (1999) The development of social roles in the play of an infant gorilla and its relationship to sensorimotor intellectual development. In: Mitchell RW, Miles L (eds) The mentalities of gorillas and orangutans: comparative perspectives. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, pp 367–393CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Parnell RJ, Buchanan-Smith HM (2001) Animal behaviour: an unusual social display by gorillas. Nature 412:294CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Pellis SM, Iwaniuk AN (2000) Comparative analyses of the role of postnatal development on the expression of play fighting. Dev Psychol 36:136–147CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Pereira ME, Fairbanks LA (eds) (1993) Juvenile primates. Oxford University Press, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  40. Ramsey JK, McGrew WC (2005) The nature of play: great apes and humans. In: Pellegrini AD, Smith PK (ed) Object play in great apes. Guildford Press, New York City, pp 89–112Google Scholar
  41. Robbins MM, Ando C, Fawcett KA, Grueter CC, Hedwig D, Iwata Y, Lodwick J, Masi S, Salmi R, Stoinski TS, Todd A, Vercellio V, Yamagiwa J (2016) Behavioral variation in gorillas: evidence of potential cultural traits. PLoS One 11(9):e0160483CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Schaller (1963) The Mountain Gorilla. Ecology and Behavior. University of Chicago Press, ChicagoGoogle Scholar
  43. Spinka M, Newberry R, Bekoff M (2001) Mammalian play: training for the unexpected. Q Rev Biol 76:141–168CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Tanner JE, Byrne RW (2010) Triadic and collaborative play by gorillas in social games with objects. Anim Cogn 13:591–607CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Thompson KV (1998) Self-assessment in juvenile play. In: Bekoff M, Byers J (eds) Animal play—evolutionary comparative and ecological perspectives. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, pp 183–204CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Van Leeuwen EJ, Zimmermann E, Ross MD (2011) Responding to inequities: gorillas try to maintain their competitive advantage during play fights. Biol Lett 7:39–42CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Watts DP, Pusey AE (1993) Behavior of juvenile and adolescent great apes. In: Pereira ME, Fairbanks LA (eds) Juvenile primates. Oxford University Press, New York, pp 182–196Google Scholar
  48. Williamson EA, Gerald-Steklis N (2001) Composition of Gorilla gorilla beringei groups monitored by Karisoke Research Centre, 2001. Afr Primates 5:48–51Google Scholar
  49. Yanagi A, Berman CM (2017) Does behavioral flexibility contribute to successful play among juvenile rhesus macaques? Behav Ecol Sociobiol 71:156CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Yerkes RM, Yerkes AW (1929) The great apes. Yale University Press, New HavenGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Japan Monkey Centre and Springer Japan KK, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Primate Research InstituteKyoto UniversityKyotoJapan
  2. 2.Primate Cognition Research GroupLisbonPortugal
  3. 3.Conservation Through Public HealthEntebbeUganda

Personalised recommendations