Wednesday 10 August 2022 07:07 PM Zoo gorillas have developed a new sneeze-like call to get attention from their ... trends now

Wednesday 10 August 2022 07:07 PM Zoo gorillas have developed a new sneeze-like call to get attention from their ... trends now
Wednesday 10 August 2022 07:07 PM Zoo gorillas have developed a new sneeze-like call to get attention from their ... trends now

Wednesday 10 August 2022 07:07 PM Zoo gorillas have developed a new sneeze-like call to get attention from their ... trends now

Zoo gorillas have developed their own call to get food and attention from their keepers, new research has found.

It has been dubbed by University of Georgia scientists as the 'snough' - because it sounds somewhere between a sneeze and a cough.

This is the first time 'complex vocal learning' has been identified in western gorillas, where they learn to make new sounds when encountering new situations.

Outside humans it has only been found in songbirds, parrots, hummingbirds, whales, dolphins, porpoises, pinnipeds - and recently in elephants.

Lead author Professor Roberta Salmi said: 'Evidence for the ability to produce novel calls through the imitation of sounds is rare in the animal kingdom.

'Captive gorilla attention-getting calls resemble a sound between a sneeze and a cough that we named "snough" or AG for "attention getter".'

Zoo gorillas have developed their own call to get food and attention from their keepers, new research has found. Pictured: Sukari the gorilla at Zoo Atlanta, who took part in the experiment

Zoo gorillas have developed their own call to get food and attention from their keepers, new research has found. Pictured: Sukari the gorilla at Zoo Atlanta, who took part in the experiment

The findings, published today in PLoS ONE, were the result of a series of experiments at Zoo Atlanta.

Eight gorillas were taken to an enclosure separately, and either a familiar keeper, a bucket of grapes or a keeper with a bucket of grapes was stationed a metre away from the pen - in sight but out of reach.

Their reactions were then recorded on video over the following 120-second period, and it was found that they vocalised most often when the food and keeper were present together.

They also frequently vocalised using species atypical sounds that were similar to a sneeze and a cough.

These AGs were mostly single noises, but in a few cases were part of a longer series of two to four spaced about a second apart.

Each one lasted about a fifth of a second, and were often accompanied by an exaggerated mouth opening and a gentle but fast repeated slapping or covering of the head or face.

An analysis confirmed they differed acoustically from common gorilla calls such as grunts, that they use as contact calls, and hums, that demand food in the wild.

Frequencies of attention grabbing calls from three gorillas; Kudzoo (A), Macy (B) and Sukari (C). They differ acoustically from common calls like grunts and demands for food in the wild

Frequencies of attention grabbing calls from three gorillas; Kudzoo (A), Macy (B) and Sukari (C). They differ acoustically from common calls like grunts and demands for food in the wild

Male gorillas beat their chests to show females how large and fearsome they are

Analysis of wild male mountain gorillas in Rwanda reveals a male's drumming noise conveys how big they are.

German researchers also found larger gorillas make a deeper noise when smacking their chest than their smaller peers, and each individual's thwacking pattern is unique.

It is thought that when silverbacks hit their muscular torsos they are broadcasting their dominance and size to rival males while simultaneously trying to impress females who may be potential mates.

Read more here 

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