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How Do Gorillas Behave during Communal Meals?

Gorillas are imposing animals, but there's at least one time of day when they let their guard down and enjoy themselves: supper. According to recent research, gorillas tend to sing and hum while they are dining, both to indicate their enjoyment of the food and to let other group members know that it's time to sit down and eat. Eva Luef, a primatologist at the Max Planck Institute for Ornithology in Seewiesen, Germany, said that in the wild, only silverback males were typically seen singing during supper, probably to signal to others that the leader of the group wants everyone to relax and enjoy the food. In captivity, however, all gorillas appear to have their own songs to sing at mealtime, according to Ali Vella-Irving at Canada's Toronto Zoo. And while the songs are unique and original to every gorilla, and are composed on the spur of the moment, one thing is true for all: "If it’s their favorite food, they sing louder," Vella-Irving said.

Getting to know gorillas:

  • Both species of gorilla -- the eastern and western -- live in Central Africa and are considered critically endangered.
  • The largest gorillas ever documented have lived in captivity and weighed more than 683 pounds (310 kg).
  • While gorillas in the wild can live 35 years on average, the oldest in captivity have lived until their early 60s.
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