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The Influence of Enrichment Painting on Captive Male Lowland Gorillas

Faculty Supervisor:
Dwight Krehbiel
Year of Project Completion:
2008
Student:
Katy Schmidt

Abstract

Enrichment in zoological and laboratory institutions is a relatively new phenomenon that is still growing and changing as more information is discovered about the needs of captive animals. The purpose of enrichment is to mentally and physically stimulate the animals similar to the way that they would be from the daily rigors of living in their natural habitat. It is also intended to dissuade unnatural behaviors, but not much is known about what other effects it might have on the animals or other enrichment activities. The purpose of this experiment was to begin to try and determine how adding painting as an enrichment to a gorilla’s regular regime influences his behavior during and after the training sessions. This preliminary study found that there is a behavioral influence during and after the training sessions for the painting gorilla. This gorilla more frequently and for longer periods of time engaged in non-aggressive and cooperating behaviors than the other gorillas that did not paint.

About Bethel

As the first Mennonite college founded in North America, Bethel College celebrates a tradition of progressive Christian liberal arts education, diversity within community, and lifelong learning.