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Gorilla.Image provided by Classroom Clipart (http://classroomclipart.com)]
Scientific classification
I Geoffroy, 1853

Template:Taxobox section type species


Gorilla gorilla
Gorilla beringei

The gorilla, the largest of the primates, is a ground-dwelling herbivore that inhabits the forests of central Africa. There are two species of gorilla, both in the genus Gorilla.

Gorillas move about by knuckle-walking. Males range in height from 1.65 m to 1.75 m, and in weight from 140 kg to 165 kg. Females are about half the weight of males.

Gestation is 8 ? months. There are typically 3–4 years between births. Infants stay with their mothers for 3–4 years. Females mature at 10–12 years (earlier in captivity); males 11–13 years, sometimes sooner if they assume leadership early. Lifespan is between 30–50 years. The Philadelphia Zoo's Massa set the longevity record of 54 years at the time of his death.

Both species of gorilla are endangered, and have been subject to intense poaching for a long time. Threats to gorilla survival include habitat destruction and the bushmeat trade.


A silverback is an adult male gorilla, typically more than 12 years of age and named for the distinctive patch of silver hair on his back, and that has large canines that come with maturity. Blackbacks are sexually immature males of up to 11 years of age.

Silverbacks are the strong, dominant troop leaders. Each typically leads a troop of 5 to 30 gorillas and is the center of the troop's attention, making all the decisions, mediating conflicts, determining the movements of the group, leading the others to feeding sites and taking responsibility for the safety and well being of the troop.

Males will slowly begin to leave their original troop when they are about 11 years old, travelling alone or with a group of other males for 2–5 years before being able to attract females to form a new group and start breeding. While infant gorillas normally stay with their mother for 3–4 years, silverbacks will care for weaned young orphans.

If challenged by a younger outside male, he will scream, beat his chest, shake broken-off branches at the intruder, bare his teeth then charge forward. If he is killed by disease, accident, fighting or poachers, the group will split up or be taken over in its entirety by a male descendant or even an unrelated male; there is a strong risk that a new male may kill the infants of the dead silverback.

Gorillas are closely related to humans and are considered highly intelligent. A few individuals in captivity have been taught a subset of sign language (see animal language for a discussion) such as Koko, also known for being the only animal known to keep one of another species as a pet. Koko has taken care of several companion cats over the years.



Primatologists continue to explore the relationships between various gorilla populations. The most recent publication (Primate Taxonomy, Colin Groves 2001 ISBN 1-56098-872-X) lists two recognized species, with four subspecies:

Gorilla gorilla, Western Gorilla

Gorilla beringei, Eastern Gorilla


Gorillas in pop culture

  • The gorilla suit is an eternally popular gag costume. On The Zone on YTV, a recurring character is Gorilla Stan, who is actually a person wearing a cheap Halloween costume.
  • The mascot of the NBA's Phoenix Suns is a man in a gorilla suit, called The Gorilla.
  • The giant gorilla is a recurring theme in film, especially in the various incarnations of King Kong and Mighty Joe Young.
  • The namesake of the Donkey Kong video game franchise is a gorilla.
  • Optimus Primal on Beast Wars and Beast Machines starts out as a regular gorilla. His beast modes get more technological in each incarnation.
  • The protagonist of Don Martin's Mad Magazine strip "National Gorilla-Suit Day" is ever beset by gorillas (or persons dressed as gorillas).
  • film Planet of the Apes
  • Pittsburgh State University in Pittsburgh, Kansas, is the only public college in the United States to have a gorilla as mascot.
  • Famed boarding school Phillips Academy, in Andover, Massachusetts, also has a gorilla as an informal mascot.

See also

External links

  • Gorillas Online (http://homepage.mac.com/wildlifeweb/gorillas/) - Natural history, genetics, conservation and photos
  • San Diego Zoo (http://www.sandiegozoo.org/animalbytes/t-gorilla.html) - Gorilla factsheet with a video and photos
  • Gorilla Haven (http://www.gorilla-haven.org/ghfamous.htm) - information about gorillas
  • World Wildlife Fund: Gorillas (http://www.worldwildlife.org/gorillas/) - conservation, facts and photos
  • Science Views (http://scienceviews.com/photo/library/SIA0021.html) - gorilla photos
  • The Gorilla Foundation (http://www.koko.org/), home of Koko the gorilla famous for her sign language skills
  • Wildlife Web (http://homepage.mac.com/wildlifeweb/) - Gorilla pictures and information

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