The Role of Communication

How Does Communication Affect Care & Wellness?

Two-way communication is not only a valuable tool for research, it’s a valuable tool for gorilla care and wellness. It serves three functions: 1) it allows us to ask the gorillas direct questions (in sign language and/or spoken English) about their health and well-being, and for them to answer us; 2) it gives the gorillas more control over their environment by allowing them to express their needs and wants; and 3) it enriches their relationships with their caregivers, by permitting two-way dialogues.

The following are just a few examples of how being able to communicate with gorillas using a shared language can improve captive care and wellness management.

Koko tells Penny (in sign language) that she is hungry and wants an apple drink,
and makes up for being a little cranky earlier.