Research on Primates at the Zoo

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A Zoo for a Primate Observation 11/15/2012

For this paper I decided to visit Zoo Atlanta to observe lowland gorillas. I got to the zoo at around eleven in the morning and found out the feeding times for the gorillas. Once I found them, after watching them for a little while I selected the most active group to go watch during feeding. The point of this trip was to make me feel as if I was doing a field laboratory observation of primate social behavior and it definitely did. As you read my paper I will include what I saw, my feelings towards it, and also any questions or facts I received during my visit from volunteers or signs throughout the exhibit. To put this paper into perspective with this anthropology class I will be using five terms that are from chapter seven to relate the field observation. I hope you enjoy my paper, cause I sure enjoyed writing it. At Zoo Atlanta there are four troops of Lowland Gorillas although only three are located on the yards right now. The three different groups are Taz's group, Ozzie's group, and the Bachelor males. While observing the different groups Taz's was the most active and therefore I decided to observe them especially during feeding. Feeding was at two fifteen in the afternoon and the feeder stood on top of the building that had a huge glass window to watch out. A volunteer gave the following information to me or I observed it for myself during my visit. Every group eats about six times a day including snacks. The most important meal being breakfast just like anatomically modern humans is served right before or right as the park opens. This meal is cute up in small pieces and scattered throughout the park so that they must forage for the food since this is what they would have to do in the wild. Before this meal they are served pre-breakfast which is considered a primate chow very similar to what dogs eat made my pedigree. They also get snacks throughout the day, mainly fruits. One thing that really shocked me is that they are ALL vegetarian. They are all so big and by first glance you would never imagine that. The thing that shocked me the most was during the feeding when every single gorilla got into a certain spot and that’s where he or she was fed this is mainly because they are not good at sharing, especially mothers. This process of them learning that they must get into their own spot is a great example of enculturation. Enculturation is the process of learning culture and transmitting it throughout generations. The last thing with feeding is that they do a process called RNR if they are still hungry. This act is known as regurgitation and re-eating. As nasty as that sounds they do it over and over until they are finally full. One crazy interesting fact is that on an average day a male gorilla consumes sixty-six pounds of vegetation a day.

Other than food, other interesting things I found were the similarities of the lowland gorillas compared to humans. Can you believe they take the same medications as us? Well they do! They take heart medications due to genetic heart problems and see cardiologist just like us. Another similarity is when females are pregnant, there pregnancy last just about the same length of time, eight to nine months and they have only one at a time. One of their females actually had twins within the last couple years and the lady I spoke with kept repeating herself at how rare twins are between gorillas. She made a joke and I thought it was kind of funny, she said "she gave birth on Halloween so I think that was her way of saying "trick or treat". The Atlanta Zoo is actually the only zoo with mother-reared twins, isn’t that awesome? Another thing is when the little gorillas were playing they were pretty rough just like little kids are when they are playing around. This is more of a comparison than a similarity but a sign in the zoo in the area that the gorillas were in, said...
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