So today I learned that gorillas nurse their young until they are 3 or 4....

(332 Posts)
georgimama Sun 12-Oct-08 22:09:55

That's it really. Was at Bristol Zoo and the lovely keeper gave a talk about all their gorillas. They have a 23 month old baby and he is still nursing and apparently will continue to do so until he is about 3 or 4.

I just thought that was lovely. Seriously cute gorilla baby.

whomovedmychocolate Sun 12-Oct-08 22:15:21

I bet their MiLs still heckle though grin

georgimama Sun 12-Oct-08 22:16:55

There's a gorilla island webcam on the Bristol zoo website now, I might load it up at work!

verylittlecarrot Mon 13-Oct-08 01:21:44

You know, it's mostly for the mummy gorilla's benefit, really.


SuperBunny Mon 13-Oct-08 01:27:49

How self-indulgent of the mother. Goodness. The baby might still be doing it when it is 8 or something. Shocking. I bet they aren't even discreet.


<off to find the webcam>

mawbroon Mon 13-Oct-08 07:52:10

Gosh, has nobody told that mother gorilla that there's no nutritional benefit after 6 months. winkwinkwinkgrin

LeonieD Mon 13-Oct-08 08:29:27

Message withdrawn

mawbroon Mon 13-Oct-08 08:59:08

LOL, I must be too! My ds is 3 next week and still feeding.

It's just not natural is it? wink

hanaflower Mon 13-Oct-08 09:03:34

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

PuzzleRocks Mon 13-Oct-08 09:09:01

So that's why I call DD monkey.

And we are supposed to be more evolved!

Tangle Mon 13-Oct-08 12:27:54

Shocking, isn't it

Kathy Dettwyler has a sumary of a selection of research into a "natural" weaning age for humans - you can get up to 7 fairly easily!

lizzytee Mon 13-Oct-08 13:35:35

Does she know she's making a rod for her own back?

EnchantedWithEdwardCullen Mon 13-Oct-08 13:38:28

A gorillas life span is only 40 years too, which means by feeding till 4 years they breastfeed for the first 10% of their life expectancy.

Which means that naturally humans should feed, by the same rule till about 7 years old wink grin

Rhubarb Mon 13-Oct-08 13:40:08

We are not gorillas however. The reason they nurse for so long and in other underdeveloped countries, is that it is essential for them to get as many nutrients as they can because once they are weaned, nutricious food is scarce and irregular. Plus they can pick up diseases much easier from unclean food.

In this country, you can choose to feed your child up to that age, but it's not really necessary, our food is plentiful and hygiene is good.

Simplysally Mon 13-Oct-08 13:44:04

How often do gorillas have babies? Once every 4 years? Surely they don't feed older gorillas once they've got a new sprog hmm although I know it's quite common for humans to do this.

Or does the feeding have a contraceptive effect? Not trying to be clever, just wondering.

Tangle Mon 13-Oct-08 14:41:56

Simplysally - BF does have a contraceptive effect. IIRC, in countries where children self-weaning is the norm average child spacing tends to be around 4 years (that's back to humans btw, but I'm figuring it'll be similar for gorillas wink).

mabanana Mon 13-Oct-08 14:57:35

I have never seen a scrap of evidence that it is the norm anywhere for children to be breastfed until three or four. I'm not saying there is anything wrong with it at all (I've breastfed up to two), just that this is a bit of a myth.

Dragonbutter Mon 13-Oct-08 14:59:27

i read somewhere that gorilla's also suffer from pnd.

Simplysally Mon 13-Oct-08 15:02:41

I was wondering as I believe (this may be wrong) that animals don't ovulate in the same way as women do but only when they are ready to get pg do they come into season.

mabanana Mon 13-Oct-08 15:04:43

Even Kathy Dettwyler admits the worldwide average weaning age stuff is made up

mabanana Mon 13-Oct-08 15:05:36

Primates have very widely spaced offspring.

InTheDollshouse Mon 13-Oct-08 18:12:08

mabanana, there's plenty of anthropological, archaeological and historical evidence of children in various cultures breastfeeding until age 3 or 4. For a good overview, have a look at Breastfeeding: Biocultural Perspectives.

mabanana Mon 13-Oct-08 18:17:08

There may be, but that does not make the 'worldwide average age for weaning 4.5' - that's simply not true, but you hear it bandied about all the time.

mabanana Mon 13-Oct-08 18:21:47

Interesting evidence of how important breastfeeding is/was for children in medieval times - yet still two years was about the limit.

mabanana Mon 13-Oct-08 18:22:32

sorry here, babies thrived until weaned

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