Wednesday, 14 May 2014

Zoo-Raised Gorillas Prefer Forest Sounds Over Chopin

Jyoti Madhusoodanan, ISNS Contributor | May 12, 2014 04:32pm ET

(ISNS) -- The sounds of a gently babbling stream or leaves rustling in the wind can calm city-dwellers far from woodsy retreats. These natural sounds may also influence the behavior of gorillas raised in zoos that have never seen a rainforest.

Western lowland gorillas (Gorilla gorilla gorilla) exhibited fewer stress-related behaviors when a recording of rainforest sounds was played in their enclosure. They responded more strongly to these sounds than to classical or rock music, or no music at all. The results, accepted for publication in the journal Zoo Biology, suggest that the forest melodies were more effective at reducing stress-induced habits such as hair-plucking or regurgitating food in the three gorillas studied.

Previous research on how music affects zoo-housed gorillas produced mixed results. One study found adult gorillas were more agitated and aroused by rainforest sounds. Another paper found that the animals appeared more relaxed in response to music – whether classical or forest tunes – than when no music was played to them.

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