Gorillas sing ‘food songs’ as they eat which get louder if they’re enjoying meal

Gorillas living in the wild make up happy little food-related songs as they eat, scientists have confirmed for the first time.

The discovery was made by a German researcher based in the Republic of the Congo, who found the larger-than-life primates hum and sing songs during meal-times.

The human-like habit has been seen with captive gorillas before, but never in the wild.

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Food-related vocalisations have been previously documented in monkeys such as wild chimpanzees and bonobos, but this is the first time gorillas have been confirmed to be musical at teatime.

The sounds, which were recorded by the scientist in the animals' natural habitat, include a "steady low-frequency tone” and other higher-pitched tones, depending of their mood.

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They are known to sing even louder if they are enjoying their meals, but only the more dominant in the group were found to sing.

Primatologist Eva Luef, who studied two groups in the Congo's wild western lowland told New Scientist: "Each gorilla has its own voice: you can really tell who’s singing.

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"And if it’s their favourite food, they sing louder.

“It was generally only dominant silverback males that sang and hummed while eating.”

The gorilla expert believes the songs may be a way for the alpha silverbacks to let the family know it is dinner time.

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“He’s the one making the collective decisions for the group,” Luef said.

“We think he uses this vocalisation to inform the others ‘OK, now we’re eating.’”

Food calls have been used in the past to study monkey language.

The findings have been published in PLOS One and you can listen to the animals sing here.

  • Animals
  • Monkeys

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