Today, my daughters and I had the opportunity to observe two male langurs fighting and then reconciling at the St. Louis Zoo today. First of all, here’s the fight (this is the tale end of a rough play session that turned noticeably unpleasant–the entire episode lasted about 3 minutes):
About 2 minutes after these langurs ceased fighting, I saw what clearly appeared to be a reconcilation. Here’s the progression. For most of the two minutes immediately following the fight, one of the langurs parked himself about 3 inches from me (separated by plexiglass). I wondered whether he was pouting or, maybe, whether he was a bit hurt. He looked to be checking out his foot.
After 2 minutes, he hopped up to a outcropping to join the other langur, where the two fighting langurs hugged for about 60 seconds.
I not certain I know how to interpret what happened next, but here’s the photo. It appeared to be of a sexual nature or, perhaps, grooming.
Langurs are marvelously athletic creatures. They bounce around in their enclosure, sometimes causing themselves to bounce off of the Plexiglas. They can jump up cliffs and grab ropes and swing without any apparent fear or effort. Check out the toes of the langur, which are much longer then the langur’s fingers.
I found this fight/reconcile exchange to be fascinating, especially in light of Frans de Waal’s discovery that primates often reconcile. He noted that these reconciliations often involve an expression of sexuality. I assume that this is what happened today.