This week has been great for our study as we got to see some of the gorillas’ personalities really shine through. Jamani is a 17 year-old female at the NC Zoo, and she is known to be the most playful female of the troop. I watched Hadari, a 7 year-old male, approach Jamani and bite her back legs in order to try to get her to play. At first she just kept spinning around to try to stop Hadari from biting her, but she finally gave in and started to play. Hadari is a ham when he plays and, if you’re quiet enough, you can hear him chuckling. Mosuba, the 33 year-old silverback male, is known to have a calm demeanor; however he will give a short grunt at the youngest boys, Bomassa and Apollo, if they’re playing too rambunctiously near him.
Western lowland gorillas have many vocalizations, and if you watch these guys long enough you’ll be sure to hear a few. We’ve heard Hadari play chuckle and Mosuba double-grunt and rumble. These calls are generally understood to be vocalizations of contentment or playfulness. Gorilla communication goes much further than just vocalizations, though. There are complex gestures, body posturing, and touches that all serve as forms of silent communication. As we continue to study these wonderful individuals I’m sure we will see more communication among them.