Page 1

Common Name: Gorilla Scientific Name: Gorilla gorilla

ENDANGERED Gorilla Distribution: Western Africa Habitat: Tropical Forest

There are four different subspecies of Gorilla; the Mountain Gorilla, the Eastern Lowland Gorilla, the Cross River Gorilla and the Western Lowland Gorillas (the type we have at Twycross). Gorillas have very broad shoulders, muscular necks and very strong hands and feet, these make Gorillas about 8 times stronger than a man. Even though they are very strong Gorillas are generally very gentle animals, not aggressive as they are often portrayed on film.

Height: Approx. 180cm

They live in stable family groups made up of one ‘Silverback’ (dominant) male, a number of females and their offspring. Juvenile males are often forced out of the group when they reach sexual maturity.

Weight: 100kg - 190kg

The males and females are easy to tell apart as once a male reaches sexual maturity he gets silver fur on his back and down his thighs, which is why male gorillas are known as ‘Silverbacks’.

Diet: Omnivorous Fruit, leaves, insects.

The silverback male dictates the movements of the group, he decides where and when they eat and sleep. They generally have meal times; one in the morning and another after the midday nap. The majority of a gorillas diet is made up of leaves, fruit and stems. They also eat some insects. They are very dextrous and so can pick up insects as small as ants and termites without squashing them. Female gorilla will mate with the ‘Silverback’ and after a gestation period of about 9 months ahe will give birth to a single infant. The babies are born helpless dependent on their mothers until about 4 years old. Gorillas are under threat from habitat loss, poaching and the tourist trade. Gorillas are hunted for all sorts of reasons. It is believed that some gorilla body parts form medicines and many are killed for food. Gorillas are protected in many places now but illegal poaching still takes place.