Family idyll

Family Idyll 2 4.5

All about pregnancy

Family Idyll

Pregnancy, childbirth and upbringing of young in anthropoid apes

A person is by no means the only being capable of experiencing tender parental feelings. In the new section "Our Milk Brothers", which we are opening in this issue of the magazine, we will talk about representatives of that class of living beings, to which we, too, are related. The class of mammals unites the most diverse in size and appearance of animals - from a tiny dwarfish white tooth the size of a newborn's cam and weighing just over a gram to an African elephant 4.5 m high and weighing 7.5 tons and a blue whale, which reaches 33 m in length 150 tons. What do they all have in common? Every schoolboy knows the answer to this question: like a person, they all have mammary glands and feed their young with milk.

Varvara Meshik Head of the Department of Primacy of the Moscow Zoo, Cand.

Acquaintance with the world of mammals is logical to start with our closest relatives - anthropoid apes. This is a suborder of a primitive order, to which two families belong: small apes, or gibbons, and large human-looking monkeys, or pongids (they are divided into three genuses: orangutans, chimpanzees and gorillas). Anthropoid apes inhabit the tropical forests and plains of Africa (chimpanzees and gorillas), Southeast Asia, including Malacca and Sumatra (gibbons), on the islands of Kalimantan and Sumatra (orangutans). They are kept by small herds or by family groups. Large anthropoid apes build their nests for the night, gibbons sleep in dense foliage in the middle part of the trees. For trees, they usually move only with the help of hands. They feed on vegetable food, sometimes eat bird eggs and chicks, as well as ants and termites (chimpanzees). The closest people are chimpanzees and gorillas. Sometimes bonobos, close relatives of chimpanzees, are distinguished as a separate kind of anthropoid apes, but nevertheless have a number of significant differences. It is bonobos more than other monkeys that remind people of the peculiarities of metabolism, social organization and behavior. Chimpanzees are more "advanced" in instrumental behavior, gorillas are known for their ability to sign communication.

The majority of mammals, and the higher primates are not an exception, differ by a gentle and attentive attitude towards their offspring. The more highly organized animals are, the more helpless their young are born, the longer their childhood lasts, the more they have to learn.

The duration of pregnancy in anthropoid apes is close to that of a human: 210 - 235 days in gibbons, 225 days in chimpanzees, 275 days in orangutans, 250 - 290 in gorillas. Anthropoid apes reproduce year round, females, like women, have menstrual cycles (lasting 30-40 days), the period of puberty begins in 7-10 years. Life expectancy ranges from 30 to 60 years.

In connection with the fact that the specialization of the Moscow Zoo is the cultivation of orangutans, we will tell more precisely about them.

Oranutian are large monkeys. The growth of adult animals reaches 130-150 cm with an average body weight of 100-150 kg (especially large males in captivity can weigh up to 300 kg). Female orangutans are much smaller than males. In 10 - 12 years orangutans acquire a family, and they quite carefully choose a partner in life. In natural conditions, the male occupies a vast territory, within which there are several female (with the calves) territories. He alternately visits them, sometimes they all come together. A pregnant female orangutan has a special social status (for example, in captivity, her first is allowed to the trough, she is particularly popular as a partner for grooming1). Роды происходят очень быстро, мама сразу берет малыша (новорожденный орангутан весит около полутора килограммов) на руки, облизывает его, съедает оболочки и послед, перекусывает пуповину и прикладывает к груди. С этого момента две-три недели мама будет все время носить новорожденного детеныша в буквальном смысле слова на руках, пока он сам не научится крепко держаться пальцами за ее шерсть. Еще 3 - 4 года ему предстоит питаться материнским молоком, причем первые два года он практически неразлучен с матерью. К полугоду малыш начинает ходить. У годовалого орангутана есть уже все молочные зубы, которые к семи годам сменяются постоянными. Oranutian очень чистоплотны, мама тщательно следит за гигиеной: вылизывает личико и половые органы малыша. Папа не принимает участия в родах и вообще с некоторой опаской относится как к самому процессу появления на свет наследника, так и к последующему общению с ним. Этому способствует и поведение матери, которая очень нежно и трепетно относится к малышу и готова защищать его от любых опасностей. Впоследствии, когда малыш подрастает, общение и игры с папой происходят по инициативе детеныша. Вообще, в семье орангутанов царит спокойная, доброжелательная атмосфера, малыша никогда не наказывают, отношение к нему варьирует от грубовато-добродушного до всплесков нежнейшей любви.


1 Grooming is the comfortable behavior of mammals, expressed in caring for the hair and addressed to another individual. In primates, it serves as a mechanism for maintaining the hierarchy (low-ranking individuals clean high-ranking), as well as an element of sexual behavior.

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