Gorillas

Although gorillas have often been miscast as violent animals, they’re actually fairly docile and avoid confrontation unless provoked or threatened. They’re the largest primate, with adult males usually weighing between 300 and 400 pounds. Their fur ranges in colour from brown to black; mountain gorillas have longer fur that keeps them warm in the cooler elevations. Dominant adult males have silver fur on their backs, and they’re twice as large as adult females.

Male western lowland gorilla

Male western lowland gorilla

The composition of social groups varies, but they often consist of more than 20 individuals, usually an adult male with several females and offspring. In the wild, adult females typically give birth to one infant every four years. They gestate for roughly eight and a half months, and infants are weaned at about three years of age. The diet of gorillas varies between the gorilla species and subspecies and may vary with changes in the season. Gorillas consume vegetation and fruit; they have never been observed eating meat. Thanks to humans, habitat destruction and the bushmeat trade (wild animals hunted for food) are the biggest threats to gorillas in the wild.

Silverback Gorilla. Photo by Dieter Heinrich, Canadian Ape Alliance.

Silverback Gorilla. Photo by Dieter Heinrich, Canadian Ape Alliance.

There are two species of gorilla (Western and Eastern) and four subspecies:

  • Western lowland gorilla
  • Cross River gorilla
  • Mountain gorilla
  • Eastern lowland gorilla

Gorillas are found throughout Africa:

Western Gorillas: Nigeria, Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Congo, Angola, Central African Republic and Democratic Republic of Congo
Eastern Gorillas: Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda and Uganda

Population
Western gorilla: 94,700 (est.)
Eastern gorilla: 17,500 (est.)

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