International Journal of Primatology

, Volume 27, Issue 5, pp 1365–1382 | Cite as

Reconciliation and Consolation in Captive Western Gorillas

  • Giada Cordoni
  • Elisabetta Palagi
  • Silvana Borgognini Tarli

We studied post-aggression mechanisms in a captive group of western gorillas (Apenheul Primate Park, The Netherlands) and compared them with those of wild mountain gorillas (Gorilla beringei). We found the same trend for reconciliation that wild mountain gorillas show: reconciliation occurred only between adult male-female dyads, while it was absent in the other sex-age class combination. There were both solicited and nonsolicited contacts; the latter finding is in contrast with the result obtained in wild mountain gorillas, in which consolation was absent. Immature females were more likely to offer consolation toward both related and unrelated individuals. Consolation did not reduce the likelihood of further attacks among group members. It may be that, as the α-male plays a fundamental role in preventing the spread of conflicts throughout the entire group, triadic contacts become ineffective for the function. The levels of consolation were higher in absence of reconciliation than in its presence, suggesting that consolation may function as an alternative mechanism in stress reduction of the victim.


consolation reconciliation solicited contact western gorilla 



The University of Pisa (Italy) supported the research. We thank the Apenheul Primate Park (The Netherlands): the Director Leobert E.M. de Boer, General Curator Frank Rietkerk, and the gorilla keepers for allowing and facilitating this work; Daniela Antonacci and Elena Chiarugi for collaboration in the data collection; Tommaso Paoli and Leonardo Dapporto for useful discussions.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Giada Cordoni
    • 1
    • 2
  • Elisabetta Palagi
    • 1
    • 2
  • Silvana Borgognini Tarli
    • 2
  1. 1.Centro Interdipartimentale Museo di Storia Naturale e del TerritorioUniversità di PisaPisaItaly
  2. 2.Dipartimento di BiologiaUniversità di PisaPisaItaly

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