Amazing animal facts on the western lowland gorilla, Gorilla gorilla gorilla, which you can see here at ZSL London Zoo.
In the wild, they live in the lush tropical rain forest of six countries across West and Central Africa.
Gorillas are the largest of all primates, with an adult male weighing between 350-600 pounds (157-273kg) and slightly smaller adult females weighing in between 150-300 pounds (66-136kg). They have large canine teeth and muscular arms but are actually very gentle and sociable animals.
They live in family groups that are led by a dominant male more commonly known as a ‘silverback’ due to the large band of silver coloured hair that covers his back. The silverback leads other members of his group, usually at least one but often many adult females, and their offspring, through the forest on their search for food and rest locations. He mediates conflicts between group members, and is responsible for the safety of the group. Occasionally they may meet other groups or solitary males that live alone in the forest after leaving their own families and getting ready to start their own.
The gorillas communicate to each other in a variety of ways. They grunt, cough and hoot and like humans, communicate many things though facial expressions and body postures. They also beat their chests with cupped hands and can charge for a short distance on two legs, although normally walk on four limbs – their feet and the knuckles of their hands.
Western lowland gorillas eat a lot of fruit and also leaves, shoots, stalks, stems, vines and bark. Occasionally, they have been known to snack on invertebrates such as termites. They wake up early in the morning after spending the night in nests that they have built from the leaves and branches around them from the trees or the ground. They spend the morning searching for food, sometimes take a rest at midday, and continue to search for food until dusk when they build new nests and sleep.
Western lowland gorillas have been estimated to live for between 30-35 years in the wild while their average life span is 35-45 years in zoos, with the record being 54 years.