I’ve been lucky enough to conduct behavioral research on animals both in a zoo and in the rainforest. I visited Malaysian Borneo to volunteer and help the graduate students with their projects… I was actually volunteering with my old classmate, Danica Stark, a fellow NEPC blogger and now a PhD student at the Danau Girang Field Center in Sabah, Malaysia. The field center is located on the northern tip of the island of Borneo, in the province of Sabah. I was only there for a short time, but I learned so much!
Gorilla Island, Bristol Zoo, Bristol, England
Why do animals act the way they do? What are the normal behaviors that a gorilla in the wild would display? What does it mean when gorillas, or other animals, in captivity demonstrate unusual behaviors?
In my last blog, I introduced the western lowland gorilla and briefly discussed what their lives are like in the wild – how their environment, food, and behaviors differ from what we may see in captive populations. I’d like to now focus a little more on animal behavior as a function of living in captivity.
Western Lowland Gorilla
There is no doubt that non-human primates are a star attraction for many zoo visitors. Gorillas are the largest of all non-human primates. In my opinion, it may be their large size paired with their seemingly humane demeanor which fascinates animal lovers.
Diana is a primatologist and conservation biologist specializing in captive animal welfare. Her conferred degrees include a BSc (Hons) specialist Degree in Human Behavioural Biology at the University of Toronto (Canada), an MSc degree in Human Health and Nutritional Science at the University of Guelph (Canada), and a second MSc degree – this one in Primate Conservation – from Oxford Brookes University (England). She focuses on nutrition and behavioral research studies, most particularly on the occurrence of abnormal regurgitation and reingestion behaviors in captive western lowland gorillas and has provided consultations on her work to nutritionists at the Metro Toronto Zoo. Diana has worked with, cared for, and studied captive gorillas in the UK and captive orangutans in Canada with Oxford Brookes University and York University, respectively. She has extensive animal care experience for a variety of species including rats, rabbits, ferrets, domestic cats and dogs, New Guinea singing dogs, pigs, goats, alpacas, skunks, woodchucks, prairie dogs, donkeys, yaks, parrots, and birds of prey such as Harris Hawks, Bald Eagles, and Great Horned Owls. She volunteers with several not-for-profit organizations, including Fundación Pro-Conservatión de los Primates Panameños (Panama), Canadian Ape Alliance (Canada), Sumatran Orangutan Society (UK), Great Ape Film Project (UK), and Dr. Jane Goodall’s Roots & Shoots Program (UK). Diana loves the outdoors and camping in Ontario’s largest protected forested area, Algonquin Provincial Park.
Letters From the Field
Letters From the Field is a blog written by contributors studying or working with animals; some in their natural habitats, some in captive environments. It is a compilation of their stories, studies, and/ or experiences. If you would like to share your experiences in this blog, please contact us by clicking on the button below: