|Size:||Height: 4.6 to 5.6 feet (1.4 to 1.7 m)|
|Weight:||150 to 500 pounds (90 to 227 kg)|
|Diet:||Leaves, bark, bulbs, vines, bamboo, fruit and insects|
|Young:||1 every 4 years|
|Lifespan:||30 to 40 years in the wild and more than 50 in captivity|
· Mature males are called “silverbacks” because they develop grey hairs across the back between the ages of 11 to 13.
· Gorilla researchers call these animals “gentle giants” because of their sweet dispositions.
· After chimpanzees, gorillas are the next closest living relatives to humans.
· Silverbacks sometimes take in weaned orphaned or abandoned juveniles.
· Just like people, gorillas have distinct personalities.
· Gorillas are the largest and most powerful apes.
Almost human like, gorillas have a broad chest, a muscular neck, and strong hands and feet. Short, thin, grey-black to brown-black hair covers their entire body, except for their face, ears, hands and feet. Their chest has very little hair. They have flared nostrils, and a thick ridge of bone that juts out above their eyes.
There are three types of gorillas found in various areas of Africa. Western lowland gorillas live in the tropical rainforests of south-east Nigeria, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Gabon, Congo, and Equatorial Guinea. Eastern lowland gorillas are found in eastern parts of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (formerly Zaire), and mountain gorillas are found within the mountainous regions of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Rwanda, and Uganda.
After feeding first thing in the morning, gorillas spend the noon resting and return to feeding in the afternoon. They rarely drink because they obtain a sufficient amount of moisture in their foods.
Only the male leader mates with the females in the group. Gorillas have sexual cycles much like that of humans, with mating occurring all year round and females having a menstrual cycle of 28 to 31 days. Females do not mate with any other males. Females gives birth to one baby in eight and a half months, or on rare occasions, twins. Babies are completely helpless when born, weighing about three to five pounds (1.4 to 2.2 kg), and are carried in their mothers’ arms. At three to four months, they become able to ride on their mother’s back. Baby gorillas begin crawling at nine weeks, walking at eight months and are weaned sometime between the age of one and five. From nine to 13 years, they become fully mature and when the males become silverbacks, will leave and either become solitary males or join bachelor groups. When males are ready to start a group of their own, they will try and entice young, maturing females to come and join them. Females never live on their own; they go right from the group they were born into, to a group where they will raise a family.
Gorillas live in family groups of five to 30 animals, made up of adult males (the leader, immature males and sometime subordinate silverbacks), females and children. The children are well taken care of and treated very lovingly, even by the adult males. Gorillas usually dwell on the ground, only going into trees to sleep or to get food. Each evening, they build simple nests, either in the trees for females or on the ground for males, because the males are often too heavy to be supported in a tree. Gorillas usually walk on all fours, using the knuckles of their forefeet. Although at one time, gorillas were thought to be aggressive, recent studies have determined that they are shy, but friendly animals who only make shows of aggression when threatened, and even then, will attack only under extreme provocation.
Forest disappearance and poaching are the two biggest reasons for the diminishing numbers of gorillas in the wild. The IUCN considers mountain gorillas to be Critically Endangered.
Gorilla Wildlife Fact File, IM Pub, US