[monkeywire] Granny gorilla knows best on baby-care
joshg1973 at yahoo.com
Fri Nov 14 10:20:38 EST 2003
Granny gorilla knows best on baby-care
19:00 12 November 03
A captive female gorilla has been spotted teaching her daughter how to tend to her
newborn. Gorilla mothers are often seen teaching their young to walk and climb, but
primatologists believe this is the first report of a mother instructing her daughter on
The daughter, an 11-year-old western lowland gorilla called Ione, had neglected her first
baby, which her keepers raised. So for several days after the birth of her second baby at
San Diego Wild Animal Park, the keepers and primatologist Masayuki Nakamichi of Osaka
University in Japan kept a close eye on her.
Initially, Ione simply left her baby on the ground in front of her 21-year-old mother,
Alberta, who picked him up and handed him back. When Ione made no move to take the baby,
Alberta moved closer pushing the newborn into his mother's face until she took him.
Variations on this sequence occurred several times in the first two days.
By the third and fourth day, Ione was holding the baby. Sometimes, Alberta would hold the
baby's arm, and Ione would hand him over, but when the baby nestled into its grandmother,
Ione quickly took him back. With time, Alberta became less involved.
Nakamichi argues that Alberta's actions were attempts to teach Ione appropriate maternal
behaviour. "These behaviours are subtle. It takes an acute observer to spot them," says
James Moore of the University of California in San Diego.
Sadly Ione died when the baby was 10 months old, but another female gorilla successfully
fostered the baby.
Journal reference: Primates (DOI: 10.1007/s10329-003-0061-9)
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