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Western Lowland Gorilla

Regenstein Center for African Apes

Did You Know?

  • Gorillas are the largest great apes, while western lowland gorillas are the smallest of the gorilla subspecies.
  • While generally peaceful, dominant males will protect troops with an elaborate display involving standing up and slapping the chest with open hands while vocalizing. They do not use clenched fists as often shown on TV.
  • Western lowland gorillas have lost more than 80% of their population over the last 70 years in a continuing trend. Gorillas are also losing their habitat as a result of agricultural development, including palm oil plantations.

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Scientific Name: Gorilla gorilla gorilla

Class: Mammals

Diet: Leaves, stems, shrubs, vines, and fruits

Range: Congo Basin of Central Africa

Endangered Status: Critically Endangered

More Information

Male and female western lowland gorillas have gray-black to dark brown coats, but males are larger than females at up to 6 feet and 500 pounds. Adult males have conical heads due to the bony crest at the top and back of their skull. Mature silverbacks can be distinguished by the saddle of white hair across their back. Adults spend most of their time on the ground, making nests by tucking vegetation around themselves while sitting.

These gorillas live in troops made up of a silverback, females, younger blackback males (between 8-12 years old), juveniles, and infants. Troops generally have home ranges that are between 9–14 square miles. Their young are born after an 8.5-month gestation and reach maturity between 6–9 years of age. Males will eventually leave and form bachelor groups or challenge an established silverback for control of a family group.

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