Facts About Gorillas

We present some fascinating facts about gorillas.

    • Gorillas live only in some tropical areas of Central Africa
    • Gorillas are the largest of all the great apes
    • Adult males may have a height of 1.7 metres and a weight of 135 – 220 kg in the wild
    • Adult females reach a height of 1.5 metres and a weight of 70 – 90 kg in the wild
    • Adults’ arms are 20% longer than legs; gorillas walk by using all four limbs, supported by the knuckles (“knuckle-walking”)
    • Gorillas’ skin and hair are black; they lack hair on the face, hands and feet
    • Silverback gorilla is a mature adult male with a patch of silver (grey) hair on his back
    • Gorillas are vegetarian; they eat fruits, leaves, shoots
    • Gorillas are important seed dispersers in the rainforest (they are the only known dispersing agents for some tree species); therefore, they play key ecological roles in their forest ecosystems (1)
    • They cannot swim but sometimes wade into swamps to feed on aquatic plants
    • Gorillas live in family groups of 6 to 30 individuals, which are led by one or two silverbacks; they are normally active during the day (diurnal)
    • A home range of each gorilla group is 2 – 40 km; but ranges of different groups may overlap
    • Gorillas build their own new nests every night using branches and foliage
    • They can use tools for problem-solving (for example, using a tree branch as a bridge to cross muddy ground)
    • Female gorillas give birth once every 4 years, normally to a single baby but occasionally to twins; the gestation period is 8.5 months
    • The repertoire of gorilla calls includes grunts, hoots, an alarm bark and the roar
    • The famous chest beating ritual is used for intimidating outsiders, communicating between the groups and maintaining the hierarchy within the group
    • In spite of all these physical expressions of emotion, gorillas are shy and un-aggressive unless improperly disturbed.

Main Reference:
Gorilla (2008). In Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved January 16, 2008 from Britannica Online: http://www.britannica.com/eb/article-9037438

(1) Vedder, A. L., & Weber, W. (2000). Gorilla. In Endangered Animals: A Reference Guide to Conflicting Issues, Reading, R. P. & Miller, B. (Eds.), p. 131 . Westport, CT: Greenwood Press. Retrieved January 25, 2008 from Questia.com

Written by:     Irina Gray of Tropical-Rainforest-Animals.com

Publication Date:     January 2008

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