Western lowland gorilla

Species Name: Western Lowland Gorilla
Scientific Name: gorilla gorilla gorilla
Irish Name: Gorilla ísealchríche thiar

Western lowland gorilla’s, the subspecies of gorilla at Dublin Zoo, are large primates with black skin and hair, which covers the whole body excluding the face, ears, palms and soles of feet. Males are larger than females and grow silver hair on their back when they are the dominant male which gives them the name ‘silverbacks’. 

The western lowland gorilla is the smallest subspecies of gorilla and originate from the mountainous rainforests of West Central Africa.

Western lowland gorilla

Western lowland gorilla’s, the subspecies of gorilla at Dublin Zoo, are large primates with black skin and hair, which covers the whole body excluding the face, ears, palms and soles of feet. Males are larger than females and grow silver hair on their back when they are the dominant male which gives them the name ‘silverbacks’. 

The western lowland gorilla is the smallest subspecies of gorilla and originate from the mountainous rainforests of West Central Africa.

General Information

Western lowland gorillas are classified as 'endangered' in the wild by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) due to poaching, disease (e.g. Ebola virus), habitat cange and destruction and climate change drying their native regions.

In 2010, Dublin Zoo began supporting the Mbeli Bai Study in the Republic of Congo. This project has been collecting valuable long-term data on gorillas in Mbeli Bai in the Nouabalé-Ndoki National Park since 1995. The Mbeli Bai study has developed into a prominent research site with the largest and longest-running data set on Western lowland gorillas available and an impressive track record of scientific publications. The study provides an example of how research can ensure conservation and safeguard wildlife and their habitats.

Physical Description

Large primates with black skin and hair, which covers the whole body excluding the face, ears, palms and soles of feet. They are sexually dimorphic with males being larger than females and also having silver hair on their back when they are the dominant male. The western lowland gorillas is the smallest subspecies of gorilla.

Where do they live? (Natural habitat)

Lowland forests and swamps in Angola, Cameron, Central African Republic, Congo, Equatorial Guinea and Gabon.

How long do they live?

35 years wild, around 55 captive.

What do they eat?

Fruit, seeds, leaves, stems, bark, shoots, roots, petioles, bracts, vine tendrils, invertebrates and earth.

Group Name

Troop

Zoo location

African plains

Animal Class

Mammalia

Animal Order

Primates

Fun Facts

Spoiled Brats!

Infants throw tantrums when they don't get what they want.

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Family Life

Can live in communities up to 30 individuals but usually smaller. The troop is led by a dominant male (silverback). The troop contains younger and older males who show no threat or challenge the silverback. It also contains females and babies, which the mothers wean at 4 years old.

Baby Name

Infant

Gestation period

8.5 months

Number of Young at Birth

1

Weight at Birth

2 - 3 kg

Age at maturity

10-12 years old, fully mature sikverback at 18 years

Adult male name

Dominant male is called a silverback

Size Male Adult

1.8m standing up right. 270-140kg

Size Female Adult

1.5m up right. 130-90 kg

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Conservation

IUCN status

Critically endangered

Current population estimate

Estimated 316919 (IUCN 2013)

Threats

Poaching, disease (e.g. Ebola virus), habitat change and destruction, climate change due to drying of their native regions.

What is Dublin Zoo doing?

Breeding and conserving.

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FAQs

  • How strong is a gorilla?

    Four to nine times stronger than a human male.

  • What do gorillas eat?

    Fruit, seeds, leaves, stems, bark, shoots, roots, petioles, bracts, vine tendrils, invertebrates and earth.

  • How long do gorillas live?

    35 years in the wild and 55 in captivity.

  • Do gorillas eat meat?

    They are omnivores, their main diet consists of fruits, vegetables and invertebrates.

  • How much does a gorilla weigh?

    Males can weight between 140-270 kg, females are usually half that weight.

  • How much does a silverback gorilla weigh?

    Around 270 kg.

  • Are gorillas apes?

    Yes, they are greater apes which includes chimpanzees, orangutans, bonobos and humans.

  • Are gorillas endangered?

    They are critically endangered due to habitat loss, poaching and climate change.

  • Can gorillas swim?

    No, humans are the only apes which can swim.

  • How strong is a silverback gorilla?

    Usually the strongest in the troop, four to nine times stronger than a human.

  • What is a group of gorillas called?

    A troop.

  • Are gorillas omnivores?

    Yes they eat both plants and invertebrates.

  • Are gorillas omnivores?

    Yes they eat both plants and invertebrates.

  • How tall are gorillas?

    Males can stand upright averaging 1.8m.

  • What is a baby gorilla called?

    Infant.

  • How much can a gorilla lift?

    Around 814 kg

  • Do gorillas have tails?

    No, they are apes so they possess no tail. Monkeys have tails.

  • Is a gorilla a mammal.

    Yes, they possess all th characteristics of being a mammal.

  • Is a gorilla an ape.

    Yes, they are greater apes which includes chimpanzees, orangutans, bonobos and humans.

  • Why are gorillas so strong?

    They have to be able to climb through trees, rip bark of trees, and be able to fight off competitors.

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