• gorilla;
  • sexual behavior;
  • reproductive strategy;
  • post-conception mating


Previous research in gorillas suggests that females engage in post-conception mating as a form of sexual competition designed to improve their own reproductive success. This study focused on sexual behaviors in a newly formed group of western lowland gorillas (Gorilla gorilla gorilla) housed at Zoo Atlanta. All females engaged in mating outside their conceptive periods, although there was individual variation in the frequency of the behavior. An analysis of the presence/absence of sexual behavior found females, regardless of reproductive condition, were more likely to engage in sexual behavior on days when other females were sexually active. On these “co-occurrence” days, females were significantly more likely to solicit the silverback, but copulations did not differ from expectation. The results find further evidence for sexual competition among female gorillas and suggest that this may occur throughout their reproductive cycle rather than only during pregnancy. Am. J. Primatol. 71:587–593, 2009. © 2009 Wiley-Liss, Inc.