Photo of the Month: Western lowland gorilla

By Megan Runquist Holmstedt

Western lowland gorilla; PHOTO CREDIT: Jamie Pham

Status: The western lowland gorilla is listed as Critically Endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) due to at least a 60 percent population decline over the past 20-25 years. This is attributed to high levels of poaching, disease (particularly Ebola), and habitat loss and degradation. There isn’t an accurate wild population estimate due to ongoing threats and regional issues.

Habitat: This is the most widespread of the four gorilla subspecies; it can be found in tropical rainforests of central and western Africa – in Cameroon, southwestern Central African Republic, Equatorial Guinea, Congo, and Gabon. These gorillas are mainly terrestrial and diurnal, spending most of the day foraging in the forest. Each night, they construct new sleeping nests on the ground or in trees with branches and leaves.

Diet: Gorillas in the wild are primarily vegetarian, though they will eat an occasional insect. Their diet consists of fruits, leaves, stems, flowers, seeds, bark, and roots.

A male western lowland gorilla can weigh more than 350 pounds, and when standing bipedally, he may measure up to six feet tall. Between 10 and 12 years of age, he begins to develop a silver-colored back, signaling adulthood. Females reach maturity at about 8 years of age, and at that time, they transfer out of their natal groups to join established groups or lone silverbacks. Males leave the natal group and form bachelor groups or may lead solitary lives until they acquire females and start their own bands.

Hasani, pictured above, lives with his half-brother Jabari at the Zoo’s Campo Gorilla Reserve. Hasani, which means “handsome” in Swahili, was born in October 1994 at the Lincoln Park Zoo and came to Los Angeles in September 2007.