Silent, visually received gestures can function as attention getters when in an initial position in a phrase, and point out subject or object of this attention:
chest pat
, tap other.

    Audible gestures function as attention getters but may also point out specific locations in the environment (such as location on a tree, rock, or wall):
knock, slap.

Watch these video clips, can you find an example of gorilla pointing in each?
Video examples: Phrase and Exchange example 3, example 4, and example 5

Location-indicating gestures function as pointing:

Criteria for “pointing” that are met by gorillas:

  • arm extension

  • gaze alternation between object and other gorilla

  • attention getting behaviors indicating that the point is intentional communication

Physical aspects of gorilla pointing:

  • touching of object

  • whole hand use; but gentle tap with knuckles may distinguish pointing from hitting or punching behavior


- Dr. Joanne Tanner

- Charles Ernest



SF Zoo Gorillas

Gorilla Gestures Intro


- Why Create Gestures

- Tactile

- Visual

- Audible

- Iconic

- Imitation

- Phrases/Exchanges

    - Attention Getters

    - Motion Depiction

    - Indicators

    - Negatives

- Other Zoos

- Gesture Table

- Triadic Play Intro

- Triadic Play Research


Copyright © 2010 Tanner and Ernest Productions. All rights reserved.