Gorilla, Western Lowland


Gorilla, Western Lowland

Scientific Name: Gorilla gorilla gorilla

Status: Critically Endangered

Habitat: lowlands and swamp forests of Cameroon, Central African Republic, Equatorial Guinea, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Gabon, and Angola

Diet: Gorillas are herbivorous, eating leaves, bark, vines, and stalks, as well as fruit.

Height: 4–6 feet

Weight: 125–420 pounds

An adult male gorilla, aged 10–12 years, begins to develop silver hair on his back, signaling his maturity and strength. Gorillas are the largest, most powerful of the great apes, a primate group that also includes chimpanzees, bonobos, and orangutans.

Gorilla group structure is well established. A silverback male leads his “band” of several females with infants, younger males, and juveniles. Mature females leave their natal groups for other bands or single silverbacks. Juvenile males may live alone until they meet females and form their own bands. Within these groups, gorillas are usually calm and quiet. However, rival males can display aggressively when bands meet. Males may express agitation or excitement by beating their chests. Females typically give birth to one infant after a gestation period of eight to nine months. At around three to four months of age, the infant rides on mom’s back and will do so until weaned (around four to five years of age); at six to seven months it walks and climbs independently. During the day, gorillas forage for food. Each night, they sleep in new nests built on the ground (larger males) or in trees (juveniles and lighter females). Gorillas are tool users and wild gorillas have been observed using rocks and sticks as rudimentary tools.

How You Can Help Gorillas in the Wild

In Africa, gorilla habitats are being destroyed by the mining of minerals that are used in the manufacture of handheld electronic devices. When you recycle your devices at the Zoo through our partner ECO-CELL, you’re helping to reduce the demand for these minerals, as we as keeping toxins out of the environment.

Oh Baby!

Female Western Lowland Gorilla, N'djia, and her newborn baby girl, Photo by Jamie Pham

Western lowland gorillas Kelly, 32, and first-time mother N’djia (en-JEE-uh), 25, had a baby girl on January 18, 2020. “Every birth is a celebration, both in zoos and in the wild,” said Candace Sclimenti, curator of mammals at the L.A. Zoo. “We are thrilled about this baby because she will provide additional attention to this critically endangered species. The L.A. Zoo has the unique opportunity to teach the public about conservation and what they can do to save animals from the threats they are facing in the wild.” The newborn’s name is Angela, in honor of a longtime Zoo supporter’s daughter, who dedicated her life to animals and their welfare.

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