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Gorilla

Gorilles

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Gorilla

Fact about the gorilla 

Family: Hominidae
Height: 1.7 m (males), 1.4 m (females)
Weight: 170 to 200 kg (males), 90 to 100 kg (females)
Lifespan: 30 years (50 years in captivity)

  • Massive head and low forehead
  • Dark-skinned and hairless face and torso
  • Powerful and stocky body
  • Arms longer than legs

The gorilla (genus: gorilla) is a close relative of humans, along with the chimpanzee and the orangutan. This great ape is the largest and physically the strongest of all primates. Divided into two distinct species, gorillas are found in nine countries of Equatorial Africa.

Nomadic lifestyle

GorillesGorillas inhabit lowland tropical forests and mountain areas above altitudes of 3,000 metres. The abundance of vegetation dictates this nomadic creature’s movements. Its territory can extend over 40 km², but is sometimes limited to just a few square kilometres.

 

Peaceful temperament

With its powerful muscles, the gorilla can easily uproot small trees. Its habit of beating on its chest is primarily a means of intimidating and driving away intruders. Despite its exceptional strength, this large herbivore generally has a peaceful and docile temperament.

Silverback

The leader of the troop is a mature male whose silver-grey hair has earned him the name “silverback”. This dominant male plays a protective role for the roughly 20 females and juveniles in his troop. He also chooses feeding areas and places to sleep.

Water-shy

The gorilla moves along the ground by supporting itself on its knuckles. It spends more time on the ground than the other great apes, but occasionally ventures into the trees. This animal dislikes getting wet and prefers to detour around waterways rather than cross through them. Furthermore, the gorilla obtains most of the water it needs through eating.

Diet

The gorilla devotes much of its day to searching for food, now and then taking a break for a nap. This herbivore especially enjoys fruit and herbaceous plants rich in juices and water. On occasion, it eats termites or ants. The animal’s diet varies with the seasons and the regions it inhabits.

One baby at a time

Gorillas mate throughout the tear, but only the dominant male mates with the females in his troop. The female is sexually mature from the age of ten, and gives birth to just one  infant at a time, every four years. The baby is born after a gestation period of about nine months.

Pink and downy

The newborn, pink-skinned and covered in downy hair, weighs barely 2 kg and is completely dependent on its mother, who nurses and cares for it. When the young gorilla reaches the age of three, the mother pulls away from it, so that her offspring can begin its adult life.

Power struggle

Gorillas are highly social animals, and numerous troops can share a territory without trouble. However, when a mature male seeks to unseat the silverback of a troop and take his place, a vicious struggle ensues. Brute strength determines whether the incumbent leader or the new challenger heads the troop.

Critically endangered

GorilleThe gorilla’s survival is seriously threatened in the short term. Poaching, epidemics such as Ebola fever, war in regions near its natural habitat, and destruction of the tropical forests are all factors that put the species in the class of “critically endangered”. According to UNESCO, if the situation does not turn around, the gorilla faces the possibility of extinction within just a few decades.

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