Gorillas need hugs too

Gorilla hug
© WCS Congo Program

This 11-second clip of two western lowland gorilla siblings hugging it out will make your day.

Why do humans hug each other? It's loving and it feels good to the affection-inclined, for starters. Would animals feel the same? Judging by this 11-seconds of a pair of really adorable western lowland gorilla half siblings embracing, the answer sure seems like "yes."

Researchers from the Wildlife Conservation Society's (WCS) Congo Program released this sweet footage of the siblings, taken from an observation platform in Mbeli Bai, nestled in the Republic of Congo’s Nouabale Ndoki National Park; an area that WCS helps manage. The WCS researchers observing the cuties, who go by the names of Avatar and Jingles (the gorillas, not the researchers), said it was part of a play session, adding that gorillas are physical in their play behavior. Along with wrestling, hitting, biting, they also touch, sniff, kiss and hug. Hey, just like us! Hugging, like grooming, could also be a form of confirming social bonds, they note.

Observations here fall under WCS's Mbeli Bai Study, the longest running on the social organization, life history, and demographics of western lowland gorillas. It's been going on since 1995, and that's a good thing. "In spite of the fact that they account for over 90% of all gorillas in the wild and nearly all captive populations," notes the Mbeli Bai Study website, "there remains a scarcity of data on the natural history of these elusive animals." But apparently, no shortage of hugs.

Learn more about the Mbeli Bai Study here.

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