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.