Western Lowland Gorilla

Scientific Name: Gorilla
Irish Name: Gorilla ísealchríche thiar
IUCN Status: Endangered

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

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 for?

35 years wild, around 55 in zoos.

What do they eat?

Gorillas love to eat—it’s their favourite activity! An adult male will eat up to 18 kilograms of food each day; that is equal to the weight of over 100 bananas. Their diet includes fruit, seeds, leaves, stems, bark, shoots, roots, petioles, bracts, vine tendrils, invertebrates and earth.

Group Name

A group of gorillas living together is called a “troop.” There can be 5 to 30 gorillas in one troop.

Zoo Location

African plains

Animal Class

Mammalia

Animal Order

Primates

Fun Facts

Piggy-backs

A baby gorilla can cling to the fur on his mom’s back for a ride, leaving the mother’s hands free for walking.

The Infamous Silverback

The adult male who leads the troop is known as the ‘silverback’ - as he has grey hair on his back. He is almost twice the size of an adult female, weighing anything from 130 to 230 kilograms.

Nose-prints

No two gorilla noses are alike. The ‘nose-prints’ of gorillas are as distinctive as human fingerprints — no two are identical.

Largest Primate

Gorillas are the largest of all primates—the group of animals that includes lemurs, monkeys, orangutans, chimpanzees, and humans.

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Family Life

A troop is led by a strong, experienced male known as a "silverback." His job is a big one. He is responsible for the safety and well being of the members of his troop. The silverback makes all the decisions, such as where the troop will travel for food each day, when they will stop to eat or rest, and where they will spend the night.

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

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

Current population estimate

There is an estimated 310,000 western lowland gorillas in the wild but the numbers are dropping by 2.7% annually.

Threats

The main threats to western lowland gorillas are poaching, disease (e.g. Ebola virus), habitat change and destruction and climate change due to drying of their native regions.

What is Dublin Zoo doing?

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.

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Western Lowland Gorilla Conservation

See what Dublin Zoo is doing to help gorillas in the wild
Find out more

Baby gorilla Asali born at Dublin Zoo

ANOTHER Baby Gorilla Born at Dublin Zoo!

📣BABY GORILLA BORN 📣Dublin Zoo is delighted to announce the birth of the second baby gorilla in 6 months! The baby, whose sex is yet to be determined (and who is yet to be named…) was born to first-time-mum Vana and dad Bangui on Saturday 12th October –so is just 6 days old 🤗The baby joins baby Asali and the rest of troop of five western lowland gorillas in the Gorilla Rainforest in Dublin Zoo 🦍Read more: bit.ly/BabyGorillaDZ

Posted by Dublin Zoo on Thursday, October 17, 2019

FAQs

  • How strong is a gorilla?

    It is thought that a male gorilla is anywhere from four to nine times stronger than a human male.

    According to the Guinness Book of Records, a silverback gorilla can lift up to 815 kilograms (1800 pounds) of dead weight. Meanwhile, a well trained human could lift a maximum of 410 kilograms (900 pounds) – half as much that the gorilla can manage. This is, of course, a rough calculation.

  • What do gorillas eat?

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

  • How long do gorillas live?

    Gorillas live to around 35 years in the wild and up to 55 years in zoos.

  • Do gorillas eat meat?

    They are omnivores, their main diet consists of fruits, vegetables and invertebrates but they do ingest insects that live on plants.

  • 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?

    A silverback weighs around 270 kg.

  • Are gorillas apes?

    Yes, they are great apes- a group which also 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.

    According to the Guinness Book of Records, a silverback gorilla can lift up to 815 kilograms of dead weight. Meanwhile, a well trained human could lift a maximum of 410 kilograms – half as much that the gorilla can manage. This is, of course, a rough calculation.

  • What is a group of gorillas called?

    A group of gorillas is 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?

    An 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 the characteristics of being a mammal.

  • Is a gorilla an ape?

    Yes, they are great 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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