Gorillas React to Their Own Reflections

A crew from BBC Earth were filming a group of Grauer’s gorillas (also known as eastern lowland gorillas) in Africa when they decided to do an experiment to see the gorillas’ reactions when shown a glimpse of their own reflections. They put together an approximately 20 cm by 20 cm mirror with a camera attached to the back to be able to give us a the view of the gorillas’ faces as they see themselves for the first time. The mirror was made out of acrylic perspex to ensure that it doesn’t shatter and the equipment was sanitized to ensure that there were no health risk for the gorillas.

Once the mirror was set, two juvenile gorillas were immediately interested and approached the unidentified object. To the surprise of the crew, the gorillas were extremely calm and began to sniff it and examine the mirror and back of the mirror. The gorillas seemed to be more interested on how it feels than how it look and were gentle as they fiddled around with the back of mirror, attempting to detach it. At one point a baby gorilla was interested in her reflection, but not wanting her to play with the new object in the forest, an adult gorilla came around and picked her up. Given that this group of gorillas was gentle with the mirror, this does not mean that all gorillas will react the same way.

According to Wiki, Gorillas are considered highly intelligent. A few individuals in captivity, such as Koko, have been taught a subset of sign language. Like the other great apes, gorillas can laugh, grieve, have “rich emotional lives”, develop strong family bonds, make and use tools, and think about the past and future. Some researchers believe gorillas have spiritual feelings or religious sentiments.They have been shown to have cultures in different areas revolving around different methods of food preparation, and will show individual colour preferences.