- A-Z Animals
Gorillas are herbivorous apes, dwelling on the ground, mostly inhabiting the forest areas around the central parts of Sub-Saharan Africa. Being the largest of all the living primates, the genus of these mammals comprises two species, namely the eastern and western gorillas, both of which remain critically endangered. They share a similar DNA to humans, being their next closest kin after bonobos and chimpanzees.
The eastern and western gorillas, as mentioned above, have two subspecies each. The subspecies of the eastern gorilla are the mountain gorilla and eastern lowland gorilla. Whereas, that of the western gorilla include the western lowland gorilla and cross river gorilla.
Size: An adult male gorilla has a height of about 5 to 6 feet (1.5 to 1.9 meters).Their arm span ranges between 8 and 9 feet (2.4 to 2.7 meters). The females are shorter in size, having a smaller arm span.
Weight: They are big mammals, with the average weight of the males being about 330 to 375 pounds (150 to 170 kg). In captivity, they can reach a weight of about 683 pounds (310 kg).
Color: Most of them have a dark coloration, with the shades differing from one species to the other.The western lowland gorilla has a gray or brown body with a red forehead. The adult males on maturity attain silver hair patches on their backs. Similar to humans, they also have dark brown eyes, with their iris having a black ring.
Head: They have a massive head and a bulging forehead which overhanging their eyes.
Hand: Their large, well-proportioned hands, all of which have nails. Most of them have big-sized thumbs.
Face: They have a long face, more prominent in males than females.
Nose: Gorillas have a distinctive nose with wrinkles.
Teeth: They have 32 teeth similar to humans. In fact, throughout their lifespan, they have two sets of teeth, the first being lost and replaced by permanent ones.
Tail: They are an exception as monkeys do not have a tail.
Feet: Their foot is large with opposable thumbs.
Their distribution is patchy, occurring in different parts of Africa. The western and eastern gorilla dwells in the west and east-central Africa, respectively.
The habitats of gorillas differ from one species to the other, with diverse elevations. The eastern gorillas, as well as their subspecies, dwell in the montane and submontane forests. The altitude is about 2130 ft. to 13120ft. The western gorillas, on the other hand, inhabit montane and also lowland swamp forests.
Gorillas have a life expectancy up to the age of 35 to 40 years on average. However, when kept in captivity they have a longer lifespan, with those in the zoo surviving for about 50 years.
Gorillas mostly remain confined to a vegetarian diet, which differs from one species to the other. Mountain gorillas feed on stems, shoot, pith, and leaves, with fruits occupying a minimal part of what they eat. The diet of the eastern lowland gorillas is diverse, changing seasonally. Besides pith and leaves, fruits also hold about 25% of the food. These species are also known to eat insects, particularly ants. Western gorillas rely more upon fruits, and like their eastern counterparts, go on to thrive on ants and termites. Most of them do not drink water as the majority of the moisture content is attained from the succulent vegetation they consume.
Males and females take 11 to 13 years and 10 to 12 years, respectively, to mature. Females get their ovulatory cycle at 6 followed by adolescent infertility lasting for two years. Their estrous period spans 30 to 33 days, though the number may vary from one species to the other. They can birth babies from 10 years of age, as seen in mountain gorillas. The male species are polygamous, and they have no particular mating season; hence, it may go on all year round.
In most cases, the females go on to seek attraction of their male counterparts through several physical gestures. Gorillas also follow a face-to-face mating technique, like humans. In groups comprising several males, the females may have to copulate with many of them.
Most have an interbirth interval of approximately four years. Similar to humans, a single offspring is born per delivery, though there may be a possibility of twins in rare cases.
The young gorillas weigh about 4 pounds (2 kgs) and are majorly dependent on their mothers to survive. The males do not play an active role in the upbringing of their children but positively socialize with them. For the initial five months after birth the infants remain in close contact with their mother and also stay with them in one nest. Their juvenile period begins at 3 and stays still 6.
Gorillas have about 25 distinct recognized vocalizations to communicate with one another when in a group. The familiar sounds include barks and grunts, especially when they travel or at the time of social interactions. Roars, grunts, and screams are warning signs mostly produced by the silverback males. Deep and rumbling belches symbolize a sense of satisfaction, primarily audible when feeding or resting.
In the IUCN Red List, all of the species, as well as subspecies, have been enlisted as Critically Endangered. The western and eastern lowland gorillas have a population of 10,000 and 5000 respectively in the wild. The mountain gorilla has been severely endangered, with just 800 existing in the wild. Habitat destruction and poaching remain the two main reasons for the depletion in their numbers. Several hundreds of gorillas in the Republic of Congo’s Odzala National Park fell victim to the Ebola virus, their population being wiped out.
Of the various initiatives taken to conserve these species, the Great Apes Survival Project is significantly formed as a collaborative effort between the UNEP and UNESCO. The Agreement on the Conservation of Gorillas and Their Habitats coming into effect since 1st June 2008, is the first legal approach for safeguarding these mammals.
1. When were gorillas discovered?
Though no specific date exists regarding their discovery and it may vary from one species to the other. For instance, German officer, Captain Robert von Beringe discovered the mountain gorilla in the year 1902.
2. Which is the largest gorilla?
Phil and eastern lowland species stood 6.6 feet tall and weighed 860 pounds.
3. What is a group of gorillas called?
A troop or band.
4. What is a silverback gorilla?
Silverback is a term referred to as the older male gorillas since their shoulders and backs have grayish-white hairs while they age. Most silverbacks are 12 years and above in age and also possess big, canine teeth that come with maturity.
5. What is a baby gorilla called?
6. Is gorilla a monkey?
No, it is an ape.
7. Are gorillas omnivores?
They are mostly herbivores. However, some may have an omnivorous diet, consuming termites and ants.
8. Which is the tallest gorilla?
The tallest gorilla, a silverback, was 6 feet 5 inches in height.
9. What is a male and female gorilla called?
The adult males are silverbacks, while the females have no specific names.
10. What are the predators of the gorillas?
Besides humans, gorillas do not have too many enemies apart from leopards.
11. Are gorilla primates?
Yes, the largest of all living primates.