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Keywords:

  • activity;
  • social behavior;
  • play

Abstract

The physical appearance and the behavior of five lowland gorilla females at two zoos were recorded before and during 14 pregnancies. Whereas only the quality of changes associated with pregnancy had been described previously, in this study the behavior of the females was recorded quantitatively and evaluated statistically. All females at Stuttgart showed distention of the abdomen three to four months before delivery and development of the breasts a few weeks before parturition. Milk was produced by the third month in one case, and in the sixth month or later in the others, sometimes after delivery. The female at Frankfurt stopped social play seven days after conception; the Stuttgart females, in general, stopped, in the first weeks of pregnancy. Social activity and locomotion decreased considerably within the first three months in all females and were significantly different between the pregnant and the nonpregnant state in all the Stuttgart females. In this study, as in others in the literature, behavioral changes were much more reliable signs of pregnancy than were physical changes. Thus the quantitative results confirm those obtained solely by qualitative observation.