Western Lowland Gorilla

Western Lowland Gorilla Gorilla gorilla

Type of Animal:
Great Ape

Lowland forest, swamp forest, montane forest, swamps, forest clearings/edges

S.E. Cameroon, S.W. CAR, N. Rep of Congo, N.W. DRC, Gabon, Equatorial Guinea & Cabinda

Adult male much larger than female & has silver back, hence name ‘silverback male’ along w/ more pronounced crest. Females & subadult ‘blackback’ males all black. Often, old females have some grey hair.

Leaves, stems, wood, fruit, invertebrates, vegetation, nuts, seeds, pith, herbs, small turtles, roots, vines, grass, stalks, shoots, bark

Status in Wild:

Breeding in zoos, wildlife parks & breeding centers

Troops comprise of silverback male & harem of 3-8 females & offspring, sometimes w/ 1-2 subadult ‘blackback’ males. Rarely, breeding troop will have 2 silverbacks (almost always father & son). Blackback males usually leave troop at 9-12 years old and form bachelor troops of 2-7 gorillas, often w/ blackback males from other troops & haremless adult males. When male reaches around 15 years old, he’ll start collecting harem, often abducting young females from natal troop. This often leads to vicious, sometimes deadly, battles between father & suitor. Adult females stay in harem where they first become pregnant. Some adult males solitary.

Additional Info:


Male-400-450 lbs
Female-200 lbs
Young-20 lbs

9 months

Life Span:
40 years in wild, up to 55 years in captivity

Male-5.6 ft
Female-4.6 ft

Body Length:
Male-5.58 ft
Female-4.93 ft

Fun Fact(s):
Main predators are leopards & crocodiles.

When rival tries to take over harem, silverback warns him by thrashing plants around. If warning ignored, vicious, sometimes deadly, battles occur involving biting & stamping. If rival severely injures or kills resident, first thing he’ll do is kill all infants less than 3 years old to put females back into heat. However, residents usually win over rivals due to help from females, who are usually successful in counteracting infanticidal behavior.

Endangered due to bushmeat trade, ebola virus, pet trade, logging, hunting for hand/feet/head trophies, mining, slash/burn agriculture, civil strife, & use of body parts in medicine.

Generally peaceful except when silverback male defends harem.

They’re not good swimmers, so they only swim if they really have to.

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