How do gorillas play?

The most important part of gorilla play is wrestling. Animals hug each other, hold on to each other, bite, hit, thrust, throw themselves onto the partner and pull him to the ground. The more intense the wrestling bout, the more frequent and louder are the accompanying vocalisations, such as laughing, grunting, moaning and panting.

Young animals engage in such games more frequently than any other age group; adult females play least frequently. Even adults join in if encouraged. Usually, animals play during the midday rest period. Playing has a very important role in the life of young gorillas and in their integration into the group. It helps the children to get familiar with every single animal and to be accepted as a part of the group. During playing they practise communication and learn many patterns of behaviour that are not instinctive.