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Gorillas - the Gentle Giants

Updated on May 12, 2014
Pamela99 profile image

All types of animal are very interesting. Many are under attack, but many people also enjoy pets in their homes. I particularly love birds.

It seems that gorillas have always fascinated man, probably because they are the largest and strongest animal on the planet, yet not vicious. Yet, I think it's more than that, as we have learned through the years they are certainly more intelligent mammals than most and many people believe in evolution with the ape as the first type of human. The Eastern Gorilla is a species of the genus Gorilla that is subdivided into two subspecies; the Eastern Low land Gorilla is the most popular with about 5000 gorillas and the Mountain Gorilla which only has 700 individuals is on the endangered species list.

Mountain Gorilla

source Science Daily
source Science Daily

Western Gorillas Loss of Habitat

Genetically we are quite similar to gorillas (between 95%-98%), yet our DNA is more closely matched to the chimpanzees. Obviously there are some apparent differences as gorilla arms are longer than their legs; so while they can walk on their back legs they will use the backs of their fingers like extra feet when walking, which is called the knuckle walk.

Sadly there are only a little more than 700 mountain gorillas surviving in the dense forest of Central Africa. The Gorilla Organization is an international charity that seeks to save these large gorillas from extinction. They formed this charity in 1971, and the population of the mountain gorillas has increased 17% since that time. The organization is proud to announce the birth of rare twin mountain gorillas in the Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda on February 3, 2011.

The most serious threat to the mountain gorillas is the loss of habitat because not only are their forest homes being cut down for lumber, but there is a vast mineral reserve called coltan. Coltan is a key component used in the production of mobile phones, and there's a very rich supply right in the midst of the gorillas habitat.

Mountain Gorilla Baby

Gorilla and infant; Silverback Mountain Gorilla National Geographic

Mountain Gorilla Facts

Male mountain gorillas are 5’6” – 6’ tall and females are up to 5’ tall. Males weigh from 300 to 500 pounds, while females weigh from 150 to 200 pounds. The lifespan for gorillas is about 35 years in the wild and up to 50 years in zoos. Their gestational period is 8.3 to 9 months and they usually have one, rarely two infants, weighing 4 to 5 pounds at birth. The age of maturity is about 13 years for males and 10 years for females.

The way the gorilla lives in the wild is very interesting to study. They tend to live in groups of 5 to 30 with one strong male designated as the troop leader. The troop leader has a big job, for he is responsible for the safety of each member, and he makes all the decisions as they move each day to a new area so they have enough food supply. Everything a gorilla eats is plant material; therefore they live in the forest and eat leaves, stems, fruits, seeds, and roots. They love to eat! An average male gorilla will eat up to 40 pounds of food each day, and they have large stomachs that can hold this bulky food. They also have strong jaws which helps them to chew up tough stems. Each morning after they have eaten, each adult gorilla gathers leaves, twigs, and branches to make a day nest for resting while the youngsters play. After their nap the gorillas will eat again until bedtime. They will either make another nest on the ground or sleep in the tree because they never use the same nest twice.

Research on Thinking Apes

Many scientist are doing research to compare the human brain to the brain of the ape. If the human being looks at a picture they can tell whether a person is running or sitting still. Tomas Persson, a Swedish researcher states he has the most promising evidence to date that proves you do not have to have a human brain to understand pictures as representations. More studies need to be known until we know the extent of disability and apes but it is unclear if it is a matter of the training method or the capacity of the ape. Apparently there is quite a lot of research happening on the capability of thinking in apes which is an expanding field internationally.

Female Gorilla

A female gorilla is ready to have babies of her own when she is eight or 10 years old, however, she must leave the safety of her troop and find another troop or a long Silveback to live with. The females only produce one baby approximately every five years. Newborns grow very quickly and at 5 to 6 months old it learns to walk and by 18 months of age it can follow mom on foot for short distances. Typically the babies travel on their mothers back to the dense vegetation in the forest for safety reasons. The infant gorillas imitate what the others in the troop are doing by play fighting with other youngsters. Even the stern silverbacks are gentle like daddies with the little ones as they practice new skills, but a young gorilla stays close to its mom sharing her nest until old enough to be on their own.

Touched by a Wild Mountain Gorilla

Western Lowland Gorilla

source Wikipedia
source Wikipedia

Eastern Gorilla

source Wickipedia
source Wickipedia

Eastern and Western Lowland Gorillsa

The other gorillas are called the Western and Eastern Lowland Gorillas and they live in montage (forested land near, mountains), primary and secondary forests, plus low land swamps in Angola, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Congo, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Equatorial Guinea and Gabon. It is typically this gorilla that is found in zoos.

These gorillas do not display territorial behavior and live within a home range averaging 3 to 18 miles. Food availability dictates their travels. Larger groups tend to travel greater distances in order to obtain sufficient food. Gorillas are actually shy, but they will defend their family fiercely. A silverback gorilla always heads groups of guerrillas as they are adult males that is more than 12 years of age and dominant in nature. The silverback named reflects a characteristic patch of silver hair on their back.

These gorillas tend to live in family groups with one dominant male as well and they usually have 5 to 7 adult females, children, adolescents, and possibly a few non-dominant males. The Western lowland gorilla is the smallest subspecies of the gorillas with the males reaching 5’7”, weighing almost 400 pounds. Western low land gorillas have a more pronounced brow ridge and years that appear small in relation to their heads, plus they also have a different shaped nose and lip. Low land gorilla have short, soft and very fine hair as there is no need for the insulating layer of hair that the mountain gorillas require. Their diet includes bamboo, small turtles and occasional insects and they eat about 20 pounds a day.

The Eastern lowland gorilla is larger and they have the silvery white back that inspired the name silverback. Male gorillas are approximately 5 1/2 feet tall and weigh between 300 and 400 pounds. Females are smaller at 5 feet tall and average 200 pounds. Eastern lowland gorillas live in tropical forest from low elevations up to 8000 feet in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and along the border of Uganda and Rwanda.

Two Popular Movies

Below are two popular movies which reflect gorillas in two exact opposite ways. These are just one example of our fascination with gorillas.

Mighty Joe Young Part 1

King Kong (1/10) Movie CLIP - Human Sacrifice

Gorilla Joke

A gorilla was walking through the jungle when he came across a deer eating grass in a clearing. The gorilla roared, 'Who is the king of the jungle?, and the deer replied, 'Oh, you are, Master.' The gorilla walked off pleased. Soon he came across a zebra drinking at a water hole. The gorilla roared, 'Who is the king of the jungle?' and the zebra replied, 'Oh, you are, Master.' The gorilla walked off pleased. Then he came across an elephant. 'Who is the king of the jungle?' he roared. With that, the elephant threw the gorilla across a tree and jumped on him. The gorilla scraped himself up off the ground and said, 'Okay, okay, there's no need to get mad just because you don't know the answer.'

In Summary

Gorillas use a wide range of facial expressions to communicate with each other. Maybe this explains how Koko could learn sign language. They sometimes protrude their tongue forward and use various vocal sounds or slap their chest, and even laugh when they are tickled.

Unfortunately guerrillas are struggling for survival today as their habitat shrinks. They are also sometimes being hunted down for their meat or to sell some of their parts. This is just heartbreaking. People should realize the importance of these animals for the ecological balance in nature. They are harmless to people and live independently in the forest when left alone.


Submit a Comment

  • Pamela99 profile image

    Pamela Oglesby 6 years ago from United States

    ethel, I imagine so but I agree they are beautiful creatures. Thanks for your comment.

  • ethel smith profile image

    Eileen Kersey 6 years ago from Kingston-Upon-Hull

    Fscinating. They are such magnificent adn beatiful creatures. The young femaes having to look for a new troop whilst so young must be dreadful for them

  • Pamela99 profile image

    Pamela Oglesby 6 years ago from United States

    Richard, You flatter me too much but it is much appreciated. I'm glad you enjoyed the hub.

  • Richard83 profile image

    Richard83 6 years ago from West Virginia

    WOW Pam! What a great read. You really know how to publish a class A hub. Glad to be a follower to the work of a true artist.

  • Pamela99 profile image

    Pamela Oglesby 6 years ago from United States

    Eiddwen, I'm glad you enjoyed the hub and I appreciate the comments.

  • Eiddwen profile image

    Eiddwen 6 years ago from Wales

    I have to say that I love this one, I am a sucker for anything to do woth animals/nature etc and this one was a rare treat.

    As well as voting up I am also bookmarking.

    Thankl you for sharing.

    Take care


  • Pamela99 profile image

    Pamela Oglesby 6 years ago from United States

    Sun-girl, I think many people are fascinated by gorillas. Thanks for your comment.

  • Sun-Girl profile image

    Sun-Girl 6 years ago from Nigeria

    Sounds so fascinating and funny indeed, i think i love these work.

  • Pamela99 profile image

    Pamela Oglesby 6 years ago from United States

    tdarby, I'm glad you enjoyed the hub and I appreciate your comments.

  • tdarby profile image

    tdarby 6 years ago

    What an enjoyable hub. Thanks.

  • Pamela99 profile image

    Pamela Oglesby 6 years ago from United States

    capcrunch, I'm glad you enjoyed the hub and appreciate your comments.

  • capncrunch profile image

    capncrunch 6 years ago from New Orleans

    What an inspiring Hub, Pamela99! I enjoyed the video as well. Thank you.

  • Pamela99 profile image

    Pamela Oglesby 6 years ago from United States

    HELLO, I'm glad you enjoyed the hub. Thanks for your comments.

  • Hello, hello, profile image

    Hello, hello, 6 years ago from London, UK

    Thank you for such a spendid hub with so many detailed information. A great read.

  • Pamela99 profile image

    Pamela Oglesby 6 years ago from United States

    prasetio, I'm glad you enjoyed the gorilla hub. Thanks so much for your comments.

  • prasetio30 profile image

    prasetio30 6 years ago from malang-indonesia

    This was so beautiful. Thanks for share with us. I love your presentation and teach me about this animal. Again....I learn much from you. Nice presentation with stunning pictures. All video also awesome. Rated up!


  • Pamela99 profile image

    Pamela Oglesby 7 years ago from United States

    Purple Perl, I totally agree and that's why wrote this hub. Thank you so much for your comments.

  • Purple Perl profile image

    Purple Perl 7 years ago from Bangalore,India

    Voted you up. I loved Koko. It is indeed sad that such wonderful creatures that are intelligent should be on the brink of extinction.

  • Pamela99 profile image

    Pamela Oglesby 7 years ago from United States

    Rev Lady, I think they are extremely interesting creatures also. thanks for your comment.

  • RevLady profile image

    RevLady 7 years ago from Lantana, Florida

    Wonderful hub Pam on a most interesting topic. Gorilla's are indeed delightful creatures and you illustrated it so perfectly. Thanks.

    Forever His

  • Pamela99 profile image

    Pamela Oglesby 7 years ago from United States

    Audrey, Gorilla are really fascinating and I'm glad you enjoyed the hub. Thank you for your comments

  • akirchner profile image

    Audrey Kirchner 7 years ago from Washington

    Amazing piece about an amazing animal. Just love gorillas!

  • Pamela99 profile image

    Pamela Oglesby 7 years ago from United States

    Om Paranapoonya, I'm so glad you enjoyed the hub and I appreciate your comments.

    K9keystrokes, Coco is really amazing and I know many people have seen her on TV. I'm glad you enjoyed my hub on these gentle giants I understand wanting them on your side of the bar fight! Thanks so much for your comments.

  • K9keystrokes profile image

    India Arnold 7 years ago from Northern, California

    Great content Pam! The studies surrounding Gorilla thinking and communication are stunning when reading into them. Coco, a female gorilla kept in captivity many years now is a pretty popular ape. She has learned to communicate through sign language and thus, has requested a kitten as a companion to nurture. She is a very good animal care-taker and is gentle with her pets. I have long appreciated and wondered over those things we humans have in common with great apes.

    They are a very big Monkey and quite strong--definitely want them on your side in a bar fight!

    I enjoyed reading this article today. Than you for sharing. Up and awesome.


  • Om Paramapoonya profile image

    Om Paramapoonya 7 years ago

    Pamela, this is a very well-written and informative hub. I love those gentle giants and am glad I have learned a bit more about them. :)

  • Pamela99 profile image

    Pamela Oglesby 7 years ago from United States

    drbj, I just love the joke, so I had to fut it in. I'm glad you enjoyed the hub and I appreciate your comments.

  • drbj profile image

    drbj and sherry 7 years ago from south Florida

    This is a beautiful and fascinating exposition on gorillas. Thank you, Pamela. The videos are enjoyable, too. Even the joke, which happens to be one of my old, very old, standbys, is one of my favorites.

  • Pamela99 profile image

    Pamela Oglesby 7 years ago from United States

    Susan, Thanks so much for your comments and I'm glad you enjoyed the hub.

  • Just Ask Susan profile image

    Susan Zutautas 7 years ago from Ontario, Canada

    Wonderful Hub Pamela! I have always thought that the gorilla is so fascinating.

  • Pamela99 profile image

    Pamela Oglesby 7 years ago from United States

    POP, I agree and appreciate your comments,

    JY, I'm glad you enjoyed it and I certainly appreciate your comments.

    Acer, I couldn't agree more. Thanks so much for the comment.

  • Mentalist acer profile image

    Mentalist acer 7 years ago from A Voice in your Mind!

    Thanks Pam,nature presevation is a all encompasing human indicater of our own survival.;)

  • JY3502 profile image

    John Young 7 years ago from Florence, South Carolina

    What a fascinating hub Pam. I really enjoyed this read!

  • breakfastpop profile image

    breakfastpop 7 years ago

    Terrific hum, Pamela. Gorillas have always fascinated me and they certainly deserve our protection.

  • Pamela99 profile image

    Pamela Oglesby 7 years ago from United States

    Will, I'll check it out. hanks for your comment,

  • WillStarr profile image

    WillStarr 7 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

    Then there's this...a gentle giant:

    Great Hum Pamela!