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18 - The development of social roles in the play of an infant gorilla and its relationship to sensorimotor intellectual development

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  20 October 2009

Sue Taylor Parker
Affiliation:
Sonoma State University, California
Robert W. Mitchell
Affiliation:
Eastern Kentucky University, Richmond
H. Lyn Miles
Affiliation:
University of Tennessee, Chattanooga
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Summary

THE STUDY

This chapter reports on the development of social play during the first three years of life of an infant lowland gorilla living in a social group at the San Francisco Zoo (Parker, 1977a). It presents a hierarchical model for describing the temporal structure of play and its development in a single subject: at the highest level are the longest units, episodes of play. These are composed of shorter units, bouts of play. Bouts, in turn, are composed of games. Games are composed of the shortest, lowest-level units, schemes. Play bouts and episodes are punctuated by play regulators including enticements, terminations, and interventions. It also focuses on the relationship between social play and cognitive development.

Subjects

The subject of this study is an infant lowland gorilla (Gorilla gorilla gorilla) born and reared in a social group at the San Francisco Zoo: Mkumbwa was born May 1, 1975 to a wild-born mother, Jacqueline, and a wild-born father, Bwana. He is the younger brother of Koko, a gorilla who was taught to sign by Francine Patterson. At the time of the study, the social group was also composed of Mrs, a wild-born female, her male infant, Sunshine, also fathered by Bwana, and a nulliparous captive-born female, Pogo (referred to as Mkumbwa's “aunt”). Mkumbwa is currently the silverback male of the group which still includes Bwana, now a grandfather, and Pogo, as well as two younger females, Zura and Bawang. The group also includes Bawang's infant sons, Shango and Barney, fathered by Mkumbwa.

Type
Chapter
Information
The Mentalities of Gorillas and Orangutans
Comparative Perspectives
, pp. 367 - 394
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 1999

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