Visual Cues: Gorillas & Yoga

Theme song: Fifteen Minutes Old by Snow Patrol. Listen to a cover version here.

All primates, including humans, learn primarily through watching. We are hard-wired to watch and learn. Watch in the short video above how critical it is for the juvenile gorilla to see what the mom is eating. Plants make up the gorilla diet- and some can be toxic. It also helps that the baby sees where the best-tasting forages are found. And exactly what the silverback looks like; that it’s okay to be habituated to humans in this protected area, etc.*

We are visual learners. Think about teaching someone from a desert island how to peel a banana. You show them. If you’ve been new to a yoga class, you know how important it is to watch the instructor do the pose. There is a lot more to it than that. It involves my favorite theory in social psychology, Social Cognitive Theory, by Albert Bandura (pictured below). I describe how it may work in a yoga class here.


*The rough footage above was taken in Virunga National Park, Rwanda. This particular group, the Hirwa Group, just happened to be on the border between the park boundary and the village below. You can hear the village children in the background. There’s no buffer zone: it’s agriculture and then protected park. Habituation to humans has helped the mountain gorilla population in Rwanda to increase from ~250 when Diane Fossey studied them to ~700 now. All due to their value in ecotourism. However, habituation is a mixed bag. To learn more, and to help, go to

Want to go see gorillas? Go with Ged at

Published by Susannah Smith

At the intersection of wildlife and human behavior

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