Titus (gorilla)

Last updated

Titus
Titus gorilla.jpg
Species Mountain gorilla
SexMale
Born24 August 1974
Died14 September 2009(2009-09-14) (aged 35)
Parent(s)Uncle Bert (Father)
Aunt Flossie (Mother)
OffspringKuryama
Rano
Named after Titus Groan

Titus (24 August 1974 – 14 September 2009) was a silverback mountain gorilla of the Virunga Mountains, observed by researchers almost continuously over his entire life. He was the subject of the 2008 PBS Nature /BBC Natural World documentary film Titus: The Gorilla King.

Contents

Biography

Titus was born on 24 August 1974. He was named by gorilla researcher Kelly Stewert, who was observing his group at the time, after the eponymous protagonist of the Mervyn Peake novel Titus Groan.

When Titus was four years old a blackback male joined his troop. He was named Beetsme by Dian Fossey when she was asked by a visiting friend who he was and replied "Beats me". Shortly afterwards Titus' father and dominant silverback Uncle Bert (named for Diane's uncle) was killed by poachers. Beetsme attempted to take control of the troop, killing the infant daughter of its dominant female Aunt Flossie. However the blackback was rejected and the females left.

Titus and Beetsme, who seemed to have formed a bond, then became the nucleus of an unstable bachelor group. The troop was without females for eight years, during which time they were observed engaging in homosexual behaviour. When five females did eventually join the troop, Beetsme—now a fully-grown silverback—drove off the other males except Titus and became its dominant male. Titus, still a blackback, remained subordinate to Beetsme for six years. However, during this time he mated covertly with the troop's females. DNA analysis shows he sired his first offspring, Kuryama, by the group's dominant female Papoose in 1985 – the youngest recorded siring by a gorilla. In 1991, now matured to a silverback, Titus began asserting his dominance over the other males in the troop and a year later, aged 18, he displaced Beetsme as the dominant male. Beetsme remained in the troop as Titus' subordinate until his death in 2001.

Titus sired more children than any other gorilla on record and by 2004 controlled the largest known gorilla troop in the world. By age thirty, however, his dominance was waning and he began regularly fighting with his silverback son Kuryama. He was also observed biting a female after she was caught mating with Kuryama in secret. This was noted by researchers as being at odds with Titus' "calm" leadership style in previous years. In the spring of 2007 Titus led his troop to the peak of a volcanic mountain. The low temperature at that altitude threatened the younger members of the group and as Titus lingered there Kuryama made a bid for dominance. He successfully displaced Titus and then led the majority of the troop, including most of the sexually mature females and their offspring, away from the mountain. Titus did not resist but was not willing to give up his dominant position and so the troop was split. Some of the older females, including the dominant female Tuck, and their infants remained with Titus, as did a young silverback named Tuyizere.

In August 2009 a new challenger emerged, when Titus' 17-year-old son Rano, who had not been seen for two years, returned to the group. Stressed by Rano's presence Titus and his followers fled in an attempt to throw Rano off. Weakened by the lack of rest, and from an infected wound caused by an early encounter with Rano, Titus soon started to show signs of illness. After more than 10 days the group finally settled down, with Rano among them. But Titus was exhausted and very ill. On 14 September 2009, he died at age 35. [1] [2]

See also

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Gorilla</span> Genus of large African apes

Gorillas are herbivorous, predominantly ground-dwelling great apes that inhabit the tropical forests of equatorial Africa. The genus Gorilla is divided into two species: the eastern gorilla and the western gorilla, and either four or five subspecies. The DNA of gorillas is highly similar to that of humans, from 95 to 99% depending on what is included, and they are the next closest living relatives to humans after chimpanzees and bonobos.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Primatology</span> Scientific study of primates

Primatology is the scientific study of primates. It is a diverse discipline at the boundary between mammalogy and anthropology, and researchers can be found in academic departments of anatomy, anthropology, biology, medicine, psychology, veterinary sciences and zoology, as well as in animal sanctuaries, biomedical research facilities, museums and zoos. Primatologists study both living and extinct primates in their natural habitats and in laboratories by conducting field studies and experiments in order to understand aspects of their evolution and behavior.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Dian Fossey</span> American primatologist and conservationist (1932–1985)

Dian Fossey was an American primatologist and conservationist known for undertaking an extensive study of mountain gorilla groups from 1966 until her murder in 1985. She studied them daily in the mountain forests of Rwanda, initially encouraged to work there by paleoanthropologist Louis Leakey. Gorillas in the Mist, a book published two years before her death, is Fossey's account of her scientific study of the gorillas at Karisoke Research Center and prior career. It was adapted into a 1988 film of the same name.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Japanese macaque</span> Only nonhuman primate in Japan

The Japanese macaque, also known as the snow monkey, is a terrestrial Old World monkey species that is native to Japan. Colloquially, they are referred to as "snow monkeys" because some live in areas where snow covers the ground for months each year – no other non-human primate lives further north, nor in a colder climate. Individuals have brownish grey fur, pinkish-red faces, and short tails. Two subspecies are known.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Olive baboon</span> Also called the Anubis baboon, is a member of the family Cercopithecidae (Old World monkeys)

The olive baboon, also called the Anubis baboon, is a member of the family Cercopithecidae Old World monkeys. The species is the most wide-ranging of all baboons, being native to 25 countries throughout Africa, extending from Mali eastward to Ethiopia and Tanzania. Isolated populations are also present in some mountainous regions of the Sahara. It inhabits savannahs, steppes, and forests. The common name is derived from its coat colour, which is a shade of green-grey at a distance. A variety of communications, vocal and non-vocal, facilitate a complex social structure.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Mountain gorilla</span> Subspecies of the eastern gorilla

The mountain gorilla is one of the two subspecies of the eastern gorilla. It is listed as endangered by the IUCN as of 2018.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Dominance hierarchy</span> Type of social hierarchy

In biology, a dominance hierarchy is a type of social hierarchy that arises when members of animal social groups interact, creating a ranking system. A dominant higher-ranking individual is sometimes called an alpha, and the submissive lower-ranking individual a beta. Different types of interactions can result in dominance depending on the species, including ritualized displays of aggression or direct physical violence. In social living groups, members are likely to compete for access to limited resources and mating opportunities. Rather than fighting each time they meet, relative rank is established between individuals of the same sex, with higher-ranking individuals often gaining more access to resources and mates. Based on repetitive interactions, a social order is created that is subject to change each time a dominant animal is challenged by a subordinate one.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Chacma baboon</span> Species of baboon from the Old World monkey family

The chacma baboon, also known as the Cape baboon, is, like all other baboons, from the Old World monkey family. It is one of the largest of all monkeys. Located primarily in southern Africa, the chacma baboon has a wide variety of social behaviours, including a dominance hierarchy, collective foraging, adoption of young by females, and friendship pairings. These behaviors form parts of a complex evolutionary ecology. In general, the species is not threatened, but human population pressure has increased contact between humans and baboons. Hunting, trapping, and accidents kill or remove many baboons from the wild, thereby reducing baboon numbers and disrupting their social structure.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Western lowland gorilla</span> Subspecies of ape

The western lowland gorilla is one of two Critically Endangered subspecies of the western gorilla that lives in montane, primary and secondary forest and lowland swampland in central Africa in Angola, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Republic of the Congo, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Equatorial Guinea and Gabon. It is the nominate subspecies of the western gorilla, and the smallest of the four gorilla subspecies.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Bonnet macaque</span> Species of Old World monkey

The bonnet macaque, also known as zati, is a species of macaque endemic to southern India. Its distribution is limited by the Indian Ocean on three sides and the Godavari and Tapti Rivers, along with its related competitor the rhesus macaque in the north. Land use changes in the last few decades have resulted in changes in its distribution boundaries with the rhesus macaque, raising concern for its status in the wild.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Wedge-capped capuchin</span> Species of New World monkey

The wedge-capped capuchin or Guianan weeper capuchin is a capuchin monkey from South America. It is found in northern Brazil, Guyana and Venezuela. Cebus olivaceus is known to dwell in tall, primary forest and travel over long distances during the day.

Kerchak is a fictional ape character in Edgar Rice Burroughs's original Tarzan novel, Tarzan of the Apes, and in movies and other media based on it.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Eastern gorilla</span> Species of ape

The eastern gorilla is a critically endangered species of the genus Gorilla and the largest living primate. At present, the species is subdivided into two subspecies. There are 3,800 eastern lowland gorillas or Grauer’s gorillas and 1,000 mountain gorillas. Illegal hunting threatens the species.

<i>Gorillas in the Mist</i> 1988 American drama film directed by Michael Apted

Gorillas in the Mist is a 1988 American drama film directed by Michael Apted and starring Sigourney Weaver as the naturalist Dian Fossey. It tells the story of her work in Rwanda with mountain gorillas and was nominated for five Academy Awards.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International</span>

The Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International is a charity for the protection of endangered mountain gorillas. The Digit Fund was created by Dr. Dian Fossey in 1978 for the sole purpose of financing her anti-poaching patrols and preventing further poaching of the mountain gorillas. Fossey studied at her Karisoke Research Center in the Virunga Volcanoes of Rwanda. The non-profit fund was named in memory of Fossey's favourite gorilla, Digit, who was decapitated by poachers for the offer of US$20 by a Hutu merchant who specialized in selling gorilla heads as trophies and gorilla hands as ashtrays to tourists.

Charles the Gorilla is a wild-born western lowland gorilla from Gabon, West Africa. Although the date of his birth is unknown his approximate date of birth is September 23, 1972; it is, however, celebrated on January 19 each year. At a time when humans were less vigilant about their treatment of threatened and endangered species, Charles was sought after by a group of poachers interested in acquiring gorillas for international trade. He is thought to have been found lying next to the corpse of his dead mother.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Ivan (gorilla)</span> Gorilla

Ivan was a western lowland gorilla born in 1962 in what is now the Democratic Republic of the Congo. He was captured from the wild as a baby and brought to live with humans. For the first few years of his life he lived with his owners, but he soon grew too big for a human house and they moved him to a 14' x 14' concrete enclosure on display to the public at the B&I shopping center in Tacoma, Washington, where he spent the next 27 years of his life.

Timmy was a western lowland gorilla and a 25-year-long resident of the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo. He was primarily housed indoors at the Zoo's Primate, Cat & Aquatics building. The even-tempered silverback gorilla was euthanized at the Louisville Zoo after suffering from chronic cardiovascular disease and osteoarthritis in 2011.

Infanticide in non-human primates occurs when an individual kills its own or another individual's dependent young. Five hypotheses have been proposed to explain infanticide in non-human primates: exploitation, resource competition, parental manipulation, sexual selection, and social pathology.

References

  1. "Rwanda mourns most famous gorilla". BBC. 15 September 2009. Retrieved 5 October 2009.
  2. "Legendary Mountain gorilla silverback dies of old age". Wildlife extra.com.