Gorilla personality and endocrine profiling

What do you get when you put four pre-teen boys together and expect them to play nice? Well, actually, that all depends on the individual personalities of each! The Dallas Zoo has brought together two pairs of sub-adult males to form a single bachelor group. Four-male gorilla groups have been a management challenge for zoos in the past, especially as males reach maturity and become silverbacks. Fortunately, a great deal of research has been conducted on gorilla personality and social behavior, providing an excellent foundation for this study. Our goal is to take the next step by assessing fecal testosterone and glucocorticoids with respect to personality. In other words, is a gorilla’s personality related to his fecal testosterone and glucocorticoid concentrations? Patterns that emerge between specific personality profiles and endocrine profiles within this all-male group could help guide management decisions if/when the personalities of these males change as they age, if group structure is adjusted, or if other zoos wish to employ this management scheme.

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