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Gorilla Facts

Scientific Name:
Size: Males:

Mountain Gorilla - Gorilla berengei berengei; Lowland Gorilla - Gorilla gorilla gorilla
6 ft. Females, 5 ft
Males, up to 600 lb. Females, up to 200 lb
At least 30 years
Tropical forests of Cameroon, Central African Republic, Gabon, Congo and Equatorial Guinea
Entirely vegetarian, mainly fruit, leaves, and juicy stems
251-209 days
The gorilla is the world's largest primate. Gorillas are gentle, intelligent animals. The two species--mountain and lowland and are separated by about 600 miles. Both are now recognized as being endangered.

Physical Characteristics
The gorilla moves on all fours with its knuckles on the ground, but its weight is supported by its feet. Strikingly human in appearance the hands are very broad and strong. The thumbs are smaller than the fingers, which helps the groilla to grp as it climbs trees or grabs foliage. The gorilla's feet are characterized by the big toe. Unlike those of most apes, it is not widely separated from the other toes.

Gorilla And Man
The gorilla's is easy-going nature has made it possible for humans to mingle with wild family groups, and thus considerable study has been conducted on the gorilla. Unfortunately, gorillas have also been widely hunted for food and sport. The greatest risk to the gorilla, thought, comes from man's invasion of its habitats. The forests on which its survival depends are steadily being taken over as farmers and ranchers take adventage of the fertile land of the forest region.

Sexual maturity: Males, 7-8 years Females, 6-7 years. Gorillas mate year-round. The female produces one offspring about every fourth year but there have been at least four known twin sets born since 1995. If her offspring gorilla dies in infancy, which happens 40-50 percent of the time, she will breed more frequently. A young gorilla remains with its parents three years after its birth. Gorillas live in groups of ten to thirty females and their young, with one or more mature male, called the silverback. Young adult males generally live alone, sometimes joining groups for short periods. Afterward, they resume their solitary existence. Occasionally they take females with them to mate and start their own groups.

Each family group live within a farily small area. However, groups that occupy the same area coexist peacefully. One way in which gorillas extablish and reinforce bonds is by social grooming. One gorilla will groom the other by combing through its fur with its fingers and teeth. In addition to the cleanliness it promotes, social grooming allows close contact and touch between the animals.

Each evening, gorillas build nests in trees in which to spend the night. Up to the age of three, the young share their mothers' nest. However, the nest-building instinct is so strong that they experiment with making their own nest at an early age. Nest building is not a painstaking process. The gorilla simply pulls in any branches that it can reach and then squats on them to make a platform.

The unexpected appearance of a strange male in the group may cause the sliverback to mount an elaborate warning display. He hoots excitedly, building to an earsplitting roar at the intuder. Then, after having risen to his full height, tearing at twigs and branches, the gorilla beats his chest with the cupped palms of his hands. He may take a few steps toward the intruder, growling and gnashing his teeth.

If this does not deter the stranger, the silerback may be provoked to charge, waving his arms and screaming with rage. The charge usually stops short of actual contact; the silverback will thrust his face right up to the intruder's, and they will stand nose to nose, glaring at each other, until one or the other turns and stalks off.

The gorilla is herbivorous, or plant-eating ( as opposed to camivorous, or meat-eating). It eats the fruit, leaves, and stems of a wide variety of plants that from the undergrowth of the forest floor. Bamboo shoots are a favorite. The food it eats, togeather with the dew it drinks off of leaves, provides all the moisture a gorilla needs.

The mountain gorilla is found only in the Vinunga Volcanoes region in the highlands of eastern Zaire. The lowlands gorilla lives in forest areas, stretching from the nothern bank of the Zaire River in the Ubangai River in southern Nigeria. Both mountain and lowland gorillas are endangered. Fewer then 450 mountain gorillas exist in the wild.

Did You Know

A group of gorillas that live together are called a troop.
Every gorilla has a unique fingerprint just like humans.

The DNA of gorillas is very similar to humans – about 98% the same. This is more than any other animal in the world.
Gorillas often interact with others from other species and sub species. For the most part these types of interactions are very amicable.
When male gorillas are about 12 years of age they can develop silver coloring on their back. This is where the name silverback comes from but many people assume that is a species of gorilla but it isn’t.
A group of gorillas that live together are called a troop.

Silverbacks are the mature males in troops. They are very kind hearted though, and will even care for orphaned offspring on their own.
When the dominant male in a troop dies or is killed, then the troop will go their separate ways and find new groups to be a part of. However, if a younger male challenges the leader and wins then he becomes the new leader and the troop stays intact.
Gorillas aren’t meat eaters, that is a common myth.
They walk with their weight on the knuckles.
It is important to keep gorillas active when they are in captivity or they will end up suffering from various health problems including obesity.
Just about every single gorilla in the world has the same blood type – Type B.

Every gorilla has a unique fingerprint just like humans.
Gorillas are considered to be one of the most intelligent animals in the world. They are able to process information and to think independently.
Gorillas move every day for food and for exploration. They never sleep in the same place two nights in a row!
In spite of their very large size, for the most part gorillas are very calm animals.
They will never sleep in the same nest twice. They make a new one when they nap in the afternoon and before they sleep for the night.
Mother gorillas will continue to carry their offspring for about 1 ½ years even though they are able to walk when they are 5 months old.

Gorillas can walk upright but prefer to do so on their knuckles.
They have four fingers and a thumb just like humans.
Gorillas don’t have tails as many other primates do.
They are able to see in color. All of their senses are very highly developed.
They are able to grasp items with both their hands and their feet.
They are migrational animals, moving in search of food at the command of the leader. They may only move a short distance each day or they can travel several miles depending on what the food sources available happen to be.

The mortality rate for gorillas is about 40% during the first two years of life. They are often killed due to injuries, becoming orphaned, or various types of illnesses that can rapidly spread through the troop.
The grooming process is one that is very calming for gorillas, and they can go into a trance like state during it for hours and hours.


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