A wild mountain gorilla peering through the foliage

Hormones, Behavior, and Environment in Rwanda's Mountain Gorillas

Purpose

Zoo scientists work with the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International to study the relationship between mountain gorilla stress levels, environmental pressures, and anthropogenic (human-caused) disturbance.

About

Rwanda’s fabled mountain gorillas have faced a number of conservation challenges. Habitat loss, poaching and human conflict have all impacted these majestic apes, which are native to the Virunga mountains.

Lincoln Park Zoo is working with the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International to study the relationship between mountain gorilla stress levels, environmental pressures, and anthropogenic (human-caused) disturbance. Researchers are evaluating how the last two factors impact the health of the region’s famous gorillas, as well as examining how hormones and social behavior interact in order to better understand the evolutionary history not only of gorillas, but also of humans.

To date, more than 18,000 samples have been sent from Rwanda to Lincoln Park Zoo’s endocrinology lab. The resulting data will help scientists in the field better conserve this complex social species.

Staff

Rachel Santymire, Ph.D.
Director
Davee Center for Epidemiology and Endocrinology
Stacy Rosenbaum, Ph.D.
Adjunct Scientist
Davee Center for Epidemiology and Endocrinology

Collaborators

Katie Fowler, M.S.
Tara Stoinski
President and CEO/Chief Scientific Officer
Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International
Winnie Eckhardt
Research Manager
Karisoke Research Center