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Interesting Facts on One of Our Closest Kin, The Gorilla

Updated on December 12, 2014

Western Lowland Gorilla


Gorilla Species

There are two species of gorillas, the Eastern gorilla and the Western gorilla. The eastern gorilla is the largest primate in the world. There are two sub species of this gorilla which is the Eastern Lowland and the Mountain gorillas.

The Western gorilla is slightly smaller in size but very similar in appearance to the Eastern gorilla. There are two sub species of the Western gorilla, the Western Lowland and the Cross River gorilla. The Western Lowland gorillas are usually the ones you see when you visit your zoo as they seem to adjust much better to a zoo type environment.

Gorilla Range Map


Gorilla Population

The Western gorilla is considered as endangered but there are more of them than there are the Eastern gorilla which is considered severely endangered. It is estimated that there are around 100,000 of the Western Lowland gorilla and only about 300 of the Cross River gorilla. There are approximately 5,000 Eastern Lowland gorillas and only 600 of the Eastern Mountain gorilla. This, of course, is due to decades of poaching and habitat destruction. In 2008, there were approximately 125,000 Western gorillas found in the Republic of Congo.


Both species of gorillas weight between 150 to 400 pounds and stand between 4 and 6 feet in height. Male gorillas are called “silver backs” due to the distinctive silver colored hair on the backs. Young males are called “black backs”. Gorillas have dark brown eyes, framed with a black ring around the iris. They also have individual finger prints, just as humans.

The pictures here are of a Western Lowland gorilla. Both species of gorilla are usually black in color but the Eastern gorillas can be a dark brown or grayish in color. The best way to tell the difference is that the Western gorilla has a small “overhang” on the tip of its nose. Mountain gorillas tend to have longer, more course hair than the Lowland gorillas.

Gorilla in Thought

I wonder what he is thinking about.
I wonder what he is thinking about. | Source


Gorillas are highly intelligent mammals and one of the signs of higher intelligence is the ability to use “tools”. Gorillas have been seen using rocks to smash palms nuts and one female gorilla was seen using a stick to gauge the depth of a swamp she wanted to cross.

Some gorillas have even been taught sign language and are able to somewhat communicate with their trainers. They have strong family bonds and laugh as well as grieve. They even seem to have their own color preferences.

Gorilla Eating Grass


Gorillas herbivorous and eat leaves, roots, vines, and fruit. Mountain gorillas eat mostly foliage such as leaves, roots and shoots and little fruit. While the lowland gorillas have a more diverse diet, also eating foliage, but have a much higher diet of fruit and will eat insects such as termites and ants. An adult gorilla can eat up to 30 kilograms of food each day.


Gorillas lives in groups called troops. Each troop is led my one male silverback. There are several females in each troop who mate with the silverback. The females all stay close to him for protection. The silverback makes the decisions for the troop, such as where to travel and when. He also mediates conflicts among the troop, leads them to feeding sites and will protect his troop with his life.

They are most active during the day and at night will make nests on the ground on which to sleep. Their nests are made up of leaves and other plant material. The young will normally sleep in the nest with their mother until they are about 3 years old. Female gorillas reach sexual maturity at 10 to 12 years old and normal have 1 young at a time, usually weighing only 4 pounds at birth. Infants remain in close contact with their mother, clinging to her fur until they are about 4 to 5 months old. They still stay very close to their mother and will travel on her back.

Troop of Western Lowland Gorillas

Predators and Life Span

Other than man, the only real predator of the gorilla is the leopard. Leopards will attack small females, their young, or sickly gorillas. Skeletal remains of a gorilla and a leopard were found together where they apparently had a fight to the death, in which both of them were mortally wounded.

The natural life span of the gorilla is between 35 and 40 years. Gorillas in captivity have lived for as much as 50 plus years. The oldest known gorilla is in the Columbus Zoo and as of her last birthday, December 22nd, 2013, she was 57 years old.

Do you find it intriguing to learn more about the gorilla?

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    • sgbrown profile image

      Sheila Brown 2 years ago from Southern Oklahoma

      I have never been to the Houston zoo, so this is now on my list of things to do. I am glad to hear that the admission fees go towards helping the gorillas in the wild. We may be making a trip to Houston this fall, when the weather cools off a bit. Thank you for the information as well as the share! Have a wonderful day, Peggy!

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 2 years ago from Houston, Texas

      In the Houston zoo there is a new gorilla habitat that I have yet to visit. Waiting for cooler weather to once again go there. The good thing is that zoo admission fees paid are helping to support gorillas in the wild. The Houston zoo is a major donor to that cause. Thought that you might be interested in knowing that. Enjoyed reading this again and will give it another share.

    • Akriti Mattu profile image

      Akriti Mattu 2 years ago from Shimla, India

      Great hub. Gorilla need to be protected against environmental hazards. They're endangered.

    • sgbrown profile image

      Sheila Brown 2 years ago from Southern Oklahoma

      Sometimes I think so too! Thank you for stopping by!

    • peachpurple profile image

      peachy 2 years ago from Home Sweet Home

      sometimes i think that we humans are living like our gorillas mate lifestyle

    • poetryman6969 profile image

      poetryman6969 2 years ago

      When you hear that an all fruit diet might not be healthy for humans you start to wonder how apes and monkeys get away with it. And from your hub, it would appear that at least some of them don't.

    • sgbrown profile image

      Sheila Brown 2 years ago from Southern Oklahoma

      They are so intelligent and it gives me chills when they look me in the eye. I wish I could tell what they are thinking, but it would probably break my heart. Hopefully, their numbers will increase with more awareness.

    • sgbrown profile image

      Sheila Brown 2 years ago from Southern Oklahoma

      Thank you for all your support, Peggy! It is a shame that they can't all live free. If there habitat continues to decline, they may completely disappear from the wild. That would definitely be a sad day!

    • sgbrown profile image

      Sheila Brown 2 years ago from Southern Oklahoma

      I agree, colorfulone! It is a shame that there are any animals in zoos, but sometimes it is out of necessity. Gorillas are so human-like that it almost gives me chills to see them in cages or enclosures.

    • sgbrown profile image

      Sheila Brown 2 years ago from Southern Oklahoma

      I love spending time at zoos, taking pictures and "talking" to the animals. However, it does sadden me to realize just how bored they must be and how they should all be living free where ever they are from. Gorillas can give me chills when I watch them, they are so "humanlike"!

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 2 years ago from USA

      Gorillas are beautiful and fascinating. Sadly, in zoos they always seem to be very bored. When I visit zoos (which is not often), I often spend a lot of time in the primate area watching the animals there. They're my favorites aside from the large cats. It's so unfortunate that the gorillas' habitat is disappearing.

    • colorfulone profile image

      Susie Lehto 2 years ago from Minnesota

      It saddens me to see these magnificent creatures pent up in a zoo. Gorillas should have their own place on this planet, where they can be live safe and free.

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 2 years ago from Houston, Texas

      It is a shame that their natural habitat is in decline and that poaching has reduced their number to this extent. The only ones I have seen are in zoos and I can't help but think that these intelligent creatures would rather be living in the wild with their own kind. Interesting hub! Up votes, pinning and will share.

    • CorneliaMladenova profile image

      Korneliya Yonkova 2 years ago from Cork, Ireland

      Very interesting and informative article. I learned so many things about these awesome animals. Voted up :)

    • PegCole17 profile image

      Peg Cole 2 years ago from Dallas, Texas

      These guys are so intelligent and alert. We saw some of them up close at Busch Gardens. They look right into your eyes and seem to enjoy the presence of visitors. I enjoyed reading more about their origins here and am saddened by the predators that have reduce the population to such extremes.

    • ChitrangadaSharan profile image

      Chitrangada Sharan 3 years ago from New Delhi, India

      A very interesting and informative hub about Gorillas! I have seen them at the Zoo and its quite interesting to watch their movements.

      Enjoyed going through and learnt much more about them through this hub. Lovely pictures and a well presented hub.

      Thanks and voted up!

    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 3 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Thanks for sharing these interesting and useful facts. Gorillas are wonderful animals. I love learning about them.

    • bdegiulio profile image

      Bill De Giulio 3 years ago from Massachusetts

      Hi Sheila, so nice to see you here. What an amazing creature the Gorilla is. It really saddens me that these beautiful and intelligent animals are hunted and their numbers in decline. Thanks so much for the education, have a wonderful wekend.

    • pstraubie48 profile image

      Patricia Scott 3 years ago from sunny Florida

      They are fascinating creatures to me every time I have the opportunity to see them. I would like to experience them as Dian Fossey did.

      Thank you for sharing

      Angels are on the way to you ps

    • bravewarrior profile image

      Shauna L Bowling 3 years ago from Central Florida

      This is interesting, Sheila. Gorilla are so cool. It's sad their their population is in such decline.

    • sgbrown profile image

      Sheila Brown 3 years ago from Southern Oklahoma

      You are very welcome, Bill! I appreciate you stopping by and I am glad I could add a "new wrinkle" to your brain. :)

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      You didn't lie; those were interesting facts about the gorilla. Thanks for adding to my education.