The gorilla though it looks fearsome, is an endangered species. They face a constant threat of extinction due to diseases and commercial hunting. Gorillas fascinate adults and kids alike by their fierce looks and peaceful nature. They are more fascinating to learn about as they share almost 98% of the same DNA as humans. Due to this, they are often called close relatives of humans. Read on to learn more fascinating facts and information about gorillas.
Amazing Facts and Information About Gorillas
Gorillas, members of the Hominidae family are the largest primates in the world. The other name for the Hominidae family is the ‘Great ape’ family. The Great ape family also includes other primates- chimpanzees, orangutans, and humans. Due to this, gorillas and humans are often called close relatives.
Gorillas are of four types- Eastern Gorillas, Western Gorillas, Mountain gorillas, and lowland gorillas. The Eastern Gorillas are very few in number, less than 6,000 living in the wild and hence are rated Endangered. The Western Gorillas though having a larger population of almost 95,000, are also rated Critically Endangered. They are rated critically endangered gorillas as their population is declining rapidly, much more than the Eastern Gorillas.
Gorillas usually live in small groups and are led by a male gorilla known as ‘Silverback’. Other members of the group are female gorillas and young gorillas. Large gorilla groups may have more than one adult male gorilla known as ‘Blackbacks’. The role of silverbacks or Blackbacks is to protect their group from outside threats from other gorillas or predators such as leopards.
How Do They Look Like?
Gorillas are fierce-looking with long arms and long legs. Their arms are longer than their legs. Gorillas use their arms to “knuckle –walk,” i.e. they use their knuckles to walk on their four limbs. Their body is covered with long hair, mostly of brown colour. However, gorillas of different regions may have different colour hairs, like gorillas from mountain regions have dark brown hair and the western gorillas have the lightest hair. Some Western gorillas also have greyish hair with a red-coloured forehead. The hair on the back of male gorillas turns white as they turn old. This gives them the name of silverback gorillas.
The types of gorillas are named after the region they are found in. The habitat of gorillas is diverse as their types. The range of habitat is from forests to swamps and even mountains too. Mostly the gorillas are from forests in Central Africa. The western Gorillas are found in forests of Western African countries such as Congo, Cameroon, Gabon, and the Central African Republic. The Eastern Gorillas live in forests of Eastern African Countries such as Rwanda and Uganda. Most of the lowland gorillas live in swamps, bamboo forests, and lowland forests. Mountain gorillas’ habitat is the forests found on mountains. Gorillas are intelligent animals. They usually make nests from tree branches and vegetation to live. Gorillas also make simple tools out of branches and other objects.
Though gorillas are considered close relatives of humans, still their life expectancy is much less than humans. Usually, gorillas live up to 35 to 40 years. The oldest gorilla record is of a 55-year-old gorilla living in a zoo.
What Do They Eat?
Most of the gorillas are herbivores, which means they mostly eat plants. Their diet includes all parts of plants like leaves, fruits, seeds, stems, and bamboo. A small part of the food of gorillas is made up of caterpillars and termites. Some gorillas may eat insects, especially ants. An interesting fact about male gorillas is that they eat around 23 kgs or 50 pounds of food in one day.
How Big Do They Grow?
Gorillas are part of the animal group primates and are the largest primates. The gorilla male is usually twice the size of the gorilla female. The average male gorillas grow big up to 5.6 feet to 5.9 feet (approximately 1.7 to 1.8 meters), and they weigh between 300 to 400 pounds (approximately 135 to 180 kg). The average female gorillas grow up to 4.5 feet (approximately 1.4 meters) in height, and they weigh between 150 to 200 pounds (approximately 68 to 113 kg). The silverback gorillas or the leaders of the gorilla group can be up to 6 feet or taller and weigh 600 pounds or more.
Some More Facts About Gorillas
Some more fun facts about gorillas for preschoolers are:
- Gorillas, just like humans, have hands and feet, including thumbs and toes.
- Some gorillas, usually in zoos, have learned sign language. This they use to communicate with humans.
- The small group of gorillas is called a troop or band. Each troop has one dominant male gorilla called ‘silverback’.
- The name ‘Silverback’ is given to the male gorilla as he ages, and the hair on his hips and back turns silver.
- The female gorillas, like humans, have a gestation period of 8.5 months and feed their baby up to 3 years.
- Gorillas sleep at night in their nests. Most baby gorillas stay with their mother in their nest, usually till they are 2½ years old.
- Gorillas, despite their fierce looks, are peaceful and passive animals. They only attack when they feel threatened. Usually, it’s the silverback or the dominant male of the group who defends the group from the threat.
- Silverbacks are the largest gorillas. They are the decision-maker for their troop, and they decide where the group will rest, sleep, go or eat.
- One of the interesting mountain gorilla facts for kids is that there are approximately 700 mountain gorillas. They are found in high mountains located in two protected parks of Africa.
Gorillas are huge animals known for their intelligence and peaceful behaviour. Their similarity to humans makes them interesting to everybody. These fascinating facts about gorillas will make it interesting for kids to know more about gorillas, primates like humans.