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Gorillas hum and sing during meal time; study shows

Food-related calls are common in animals and have been documented in many animals, including chimpanzees and bonobos (man’s closest relatives), but aside from anecdotal reports from zoos, there was no documented evidence of gorillas hum and sing. A study by Eva Luef, a primatologist at the Max Planck Institute for Ornithology in Seewiesen, Germany, observed two groups of wild western lowland gorillas in the Democratic Republic of Congo, gave this some light. Singing seems to be a way for gorillas to express contentment with their meal, as well as for the head of the family to communicate to others that it is dinner time, it was noted. This is similar to humans as they get along with their day to day work, singing makes work look lighter.

On a safari in Congo for research by Eva Luef, she identified two different types of sound that the gorillas sometimes made when eating. One of them was humming – a steady low frequency tone that sounds a bit like a sigh of contentment. The other was singing – a series of short, differently pitched notes that sounds a little like someone humming a random melody. Humming can literally be described as making a low, steady continuous sound like that of a bee.

Luef also said “They don’t sing the same song over and over, it seems like they are composing their little food songs.”

During the study, Luef also noted that the dominant silverback males sang and hummed while eating. It was noted that the activity might be the silverback’s way of informing the group that mealtime is continuing and it is not yet time to move on. “He’s the one making the collective decisions for the group,” Luef says. “We think he uses this vocalization to inform the others ‘OK, now we’re eating’.

Why Gorillas Hum and Sing

The humming and singing aren’t usually loud enough to be a called a dinner bell but rather researchers say it is a form of collective decision-making in the feeding context that allows group members (gorilla) to coordinate their feeding activities.

Similar to the function of food-calls in chimpanzees, gorillas also call their group mates to let them know it is time to finish eating. Usually, it is the Silverback males that call more frequently since they are often the ones initiating changes in group activity.

As for why males sing and hum more while eating, the researchers also noted that males in general tend to vocalize more frequently because they always point out that females and immatures are generally at a higher risk of predation indicating that they should behave more quietly.

A Congo gorilla trekking safari exposes you to the chances of having sight of such a wonderful moment. This could also be seen while on a Uganda gorilla trekking safari or gorilla safari Rwanda when you opt for the two on a gorilla trekking safari.

Gorilla trekking in all of the three countries is a daily activity and the only way of seeing gorillas. In the Democratic Republic of Congo Mountain Gorillas are found in Virunga National Park and lowland Gorillas in Kahuzi-Biega National Park. Uganda has mountain Gorillas in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park. In Rwanda, a tourist can trek gorillas at Volcanoes National Park.

Want to visit Virunga?

Virunga National Park is one of the most biologically diverse protected areas on the earth where Congo Gorilla Trekking Safaris is encountered.