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Do Gorillas Burp When They Are Happy?

Have you ever wondered what gorillas do when they’re happy? You’re not alone! Gorillas are amazing animals that share many similarities with humans, including expressing emotions like happiness. In this blog post, we’ll explore whether gorillas burp when they’re happy and other signs of gorilla happiness.

Do Gorillas Burp When They Are Happy?

Do gorillas burp when they are happy?

So, do gorillas release big, satisfying burps when they are happy and content? The short answer is – maybe! Gorillas and other apes likely burp just like humans do, but they aren’t known for using burping as an intentional form of communication the way we do. Unlike humans, gorillas don’t say “excuse me” after burping. Nor do they seem to burp on purpose to express happiness or other emotions.

However, scientists have observed some gorillas burping after eating or drinking. This is likely due to swallowing air along with their food, which all mammals do from time to time. The air then comes back up as a burp. While gorillas may burp when content after eating, the burp itself doesn’t mean anything, it’s just a natural bodily function, not an emotional expression.

In other words, while you could imagine a happy gorilla letting out a nice big burp, there’s no evidence that they use burping to communicate their feelings. Gorillas have many other, more common ways of showing happiness and contentment.

What Else Do Gorillas Do When Happy?

If they don’t burp, what are some signs that a gorilla is happy? Here are some of the main ways gorillas express positive emotions:

  • Relaxed body language: When a gorilla is happy, it looks relaxed. Its muscles are loose rather than tense, its face is calm, and its arms may swing contentedly at its sides when walking. A happy gorilla may sit or lie in a peaceful, comfortable posture.
  • Playing: Like humans, gorillas enjoy playtime! Happy gorillas, especially young ones, will playfully wrestle, chase, and tumble with each other. They may also playfully interact with objects in their environment, swinging on tires or rolling around logs. Play helps gorillas bond with each other and learn important skills.
  • Grooming: Gorillas regularly groom each other by picking through each other’s fur to clean it and check for parasites. When in a good mood, a gorilla may enthusiastically groom another gorilla, carefully searching through its fur for a long period. This social time strengthens their relationships.
  • Eating: Gorillas love to eat, so mealtimes often make them happy and content. You may see happy gorillas eagerly feeding on their favourite fruits and vegetables or sitting peacefully while they chew their food. Their bright eyes and focused eating show their enjoyment.
  • Vocalisations: We’ll discuss gorilla sounds later, but happy gorillas may make melodic grunts or hums when interacting with group members. These “happy” sounds are distinct from the aggressive grunts or fearful cries made by unhappy gorillas.

So the next time you see a gorilla swinging on a tire, making humming sounds, or calmly eating, you can bet they’re feeling pretty happy! No burps are required.

How Can You Tell If A Gorilla Is Not Happy?

Gorillas have some clear ways of showing they’re not happy or upset. Here are signs a gorilla is feeling negative emotions:

  • Aggressive body language: When upset, a gorilla may stand tall on two legs and pound its chest with closed fists. This serves to intimidate others. Angry gorillas may also rapidly bob their heads up and down or run toward a threat. Their muscles are tense and prepared for confrontation.
  • Barking: Gorillas can make aggressive, abrupt barking sounds when upset or angry. This serves as a warning to others not to approach. The sharp barking contrasts the melodic hums made when content.
  • Screaming: High-pitched, prolonged screaming often signifies fear or distress in gorillas. For example, babies may scream for their mothers when upset. Gorillas also scream when frightened by events like thunderstorms. 
  • Avoiding others: Unlike happy gorillas who seek closeness, unhappy gorillas may isolate themselves from the group or avoid certain individuals. Their unhappiness manifests as anti-social behaviour.
  • Displaying signs of stress: Gorillas under chronic stress may show self-destructive behaviours like pulling out their own hair or repetitively regurgitating and re-eating their food. These behaviours demonstrate underlying anxiety or trauma.

So, if you observe a gorilla pounding its chest, screaming in distress, or isolating itself from the group, that likely indicates an unhappy primate. Understanding gorilla body language helps us support their well-being.

Gorilla Vocalisations

As highly social animals, gorillas have an extensive “vocabulary” of sounds they use to communicate. Here are some of the main gorilla vocalisations to listen for:

  • Grunts: Gorillas grunt frequently to express interest, acknowledgement, or mild warning. Variations in tone/pitch communicate different meanings. Deep grunts often reflect anticipation or recognition between familiar gorillas.
  • Barks: Barks are abrupt, aggressive sounds that serve as alarms or warnings to others. Barks often reflect a negative or distressed emotional state. 
  • Humming: Humming or hooting occurs when gorillas are content, like when eating or bonding with group members. The melodic hums signify a peaceful, happy mood.
  • Screams: Screams indicate fear, anger or defensiveness. For example, gorillas may scream when startled or to discourage others from approaching too closely.
  • Chest beating: The characteristic chest-beating of gorillas serves multiple purposes. The loud thumps communicate maturity, confidence, warning and group unity. 
  • Laughter: Gorillas make a distinctive giggling laughter sound when playing or excited. This shows their enjoyment.

As you listen to gorillas, notice how their vocal cues communicate their innermost feelings and responses. Their ability to convey complex emotions through sound closely resembles our own! We can better understand gorilla communication and state of mind by tuning into their vocalisations.

The Gorilla And Human Connection

Why are people so fascinated by gorillas? Partly because they’re incredible animals but also because gorillas share an evolutionary bond with humans. We see glimpses of ourselves in them and feel a sense of kinship.

Gorillas are our closest living relatives, after chimpanzees and bonobos. We share about 98% of our DNA with gorillas! Millions of years ago, humans and gorillas had a common ancestor from which both species evolved. 

This ancient connection manifests in gorilla behaviour and anatomy:

  • Gorillas walk upright on two legs at times, like humans. Other apes typically walk on all fours. The gorilla’s broader chest and shorter arms make upright walking possible.
  • Their hands and feet are similar to ours. Like us, gorillas have unique fingerprints and opposable thumbs that allow for dexterity. They can grasp objects and climb trees with ease.
  • Gorilla facial expressions offer insight into their emotions, much like human faces. We can discern a gorilla’s mood by looking at their eyes, mouth, and forehead.
  • Gorilla social groups have distinct personalities, just like human family groups. Some troops are outgoing and playful while others are more reserved. Each group has its own dynamics.

The similarities between gorillas and humans are remarkable. Next time you see a gorilla, look for behaviours it shares with us. Our shared traits demonstrate how closely we’re all connected despite outward differences. What an amazing reminder of our shared ancestry!