While gorillas are not our closest relatives, they are very closely related to us and anyone who has been near them will likely have felt this connection. If you watch the way they move, pick up items which interest them, interact with each other, or look into their eyes, it’s just like looking into our own past and seeing how our ancestors back in Africa, newly descended from the trees, may have lived and related to one another. Today, we’re going to take some time to learn more about gorillas.
There are two types of gorillas, both of whom live in Africa. The mountain gorilla lives in central Africa and has longer hair than the other, the lowland gorilla, who lives in central and Western Africa. Although about the same size on average, mountain gorillas tend to be heavier. According to National Geographic, gorillas are the largest primates in the world. They are on average 4 to 6 feet tall.
Gorillas are by and large herbivores. They eat leaves, shoots, and fruit, but on occasion they have eaten insects and small mammals. They need to eat a lot every day to support their sizes. Males can eat up to 40 pounds of food every day. Their diet also means that they don’t need to drink water; they get all the water they need from the vegetation they consume.
Gorillas live in groups, the size of which may vary. There can be as many as 50 members to as few as only 2. These groups are called troops or bands. The leader of each troop is the male silverback, who can be identified by the streak of grey hair on his back. Males who do not have a troop or any females will form bachelor troops, just like lions will.
Just like humans, the female gorilla will be pregnant for nine months and typically give birth to only one child. That child weighs only four pounds at birth, which is tiny in comparison to his parents. Baby gorillas will ride on their mother’s back for transportation and they may continue to do so until they are 2 or 3 years old. A gorilla reaches adulthood between 7 and 10 years old. In the wild, they generally live to be 35, but in captivity they can live up to 50 years.
Both the mountain and lowland gorillas are endangered from habitat loss from agriculture and mining. It is unknown exactly how badly they have been affected or how many still live in the wild, but it is estimated that there has been 80% population loss in the past three generations. Efforts are being made to save them, though, and populations are gradually moving down from critically endangered to endangered, which gives up hope but still means that there is a lot to be done.
I hope you learned something new through reading our blog post today. If you have something to share that I didn’t mention, please feel free to leave a comment below, along with any requests or suggestions for future topics to cover. We post every Tuesday and Friday so we hope to see you later this week and, until then, goodbye!