Eastern Kentucky University

Poster Title

Do Bonobos (Pan paniscus) Enact Self-directed Behavior While Looking in the Mirror?

Institution

Eastern Kentucky University

Abstract

Various studies have investigated mirror-self-recognition in animals. At least some apes of each species (chimpanzees, bonobos, orangutans, and gorillas) exhibit behavioral evidence that they recognize their own mirror image, including self-exploration and responding to surreptitiously placed marks on their face. In the present study, a group of four bonobos (Pan paniscus), one male and three females (age range from 3 to 20 years) residing at the Cincinnati Zoo, were videotaped for 30 one-hour sessions during which a mirror was placed outside their cage, with the non-reflective and reflective sides of the mirror alternately shown across sessions. Videotapes were analyzed each second for behaviors relevant to self-recognition: looking at the mirror, performing jerky movements, making contingent body or facial movements, and exploring parts of their body they could not see without the mirror. For this presentation, only the first four and last four sessions were evaluated. The total time spent in and the frequency of each behavior within each session was examined for each participant. Although at least one bonobo engaged in each behavior, all behaviors were infrequent or rare except for looking at the mirror. Not surprisingly, the bonobos looked at the mirror more frequently in the first few sessions than in the last. The data were inconclusive to provide any evidence for mirror-self-recognition.

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Do Bonobos (Pan paniscus) Enact Self-directed Behavior While Looking in the Mirror?

Various studies have investigated mirror-self-recognition in animals. At least some apes of each species (chimpanzees, bonobos, orangutans, and gorillas) exhibit behavioral evidence that they recognize their own mirror image, including self-exploration and responding to surreptitiously placed marks on their face. In the present study, a group of four bonobos (Pan paniscus), one male and three females (age range from 3 to 20 years) residing at the Cincinnati Zoo, were videotaped for 30 one-hour sessions during which a mirror was placed outside their cage, with the non-reflective and reflective sides of the mirror alternately shown across sessions. Videotapes were analyzed each second for behaviors relevant to self-recognition: looking at the mirror, performing jerky movements, making contingent body or facial movements, and exploring parts of their body they could not see without the mirror. For this presentation, only the first four and last four sessions were evaluated. The total time spent in and the frequency of each behavior within each session was examined for each participant. Although at least one bonobo engaged in each behavior, all behaviors were infrequent or rare except for looking at the mirror. Not surprisingly, the bonobos looked at the mirror more frequently in the first few sessions than in the last. The data were inconclusive to provide any evidence for mirror-self-recognition.