In Focus – Gorilla

Status: Endangered

Geographic Region: Central, Western Africa

Meaning of name: Greek meaning –Tribe of hairy women

Habitat: Tropical and subtropical forest

Threats: War, Poaching

Left in Wild: 104,260 

Disney’s Animal Kingdom – Walt Disney World

The gorilla is the largest primate on earth. The DNA of gorillas is 99% similar to humans and they are the third closest relative to humans after the chimpanzee and bonobo.

There are two species of gorillas, the eastern and western. The eastern gorilla is the largest species with the male growing to 1.8 meters tall and weighing over 200 kilograms. They have two sub species called the lowland and mountain gorilla.  The western gorilla also has a couple of sub species being the western lowland gorilla and the cross river gorilla.


Western lowland gorilla at Melbourne Zoo

Gorillas live in groups called troops. Generally a troop is made up of one adult male called a silverback and several females. This differs between species and sub species. For example juvenile male mountain gorillas sometimes stay with their troops into adulthood, being subordinate to the dominant male until he dies, only then can he mate with other females. In a single male troop, when the male dies the females will sometimes disperse into other troops- especially if the females have young as they can then inherit the protection of another troop’s silverback. If young aren’t involved females sometimes wait until a silverback inherits their troop – in short it can be complicated!

Gorillas rarely drink water, their diet can include, leaves, roots and fruit (dependent on species) and generally this diet provides a gorilla’s daily water intake.


 Werribee Open Range Zoo 
A gorilla in the wild lives between 35 to 40 years. The oldest known living gorilla lived to the age of 55 at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium in the USA.
The population of the gorilla varies between species and sub species. There are over 100,000 western lowland gorillas living in the wild.  However the eastern lowland gorilla is thought to only have approximately 4000 individuals left in the wild. The mountain gorillas are by far the most endangered of the species with only approximately 600 left in the wild.

 

Stu’s Zoo Pick for the Gorilla  
The Bronx Zoo, has a an excellent exhibit alongside their expansive gorilla enclosure called the Congo Gorilla Forest housing over 20 western lowland gorillas. As you walk through the exhibit you will learn about the species and what is being done to protect it.


Lunch time at Taronga Zoo
Taronga Zoo offers great talks and an opportunity to watch the western lowland gorillas interact at feeding time at 11.30 am daily. It really does give you a great insight into the troop’s social complexities.  

 

Melbourne Zoo has a great enclosure housing western lowland gorillas. You can do a behind the scenes tour for $120 that last for 45 minutes.

Learning about the gorillas at Werribee Open Range Zoo

Werribee Open Range Zoo has a 6,000 square metre enclosure with multiple viewing opportunities to see the western lowland gorilla. 

Disney’s Animal Kingdom

Disney’s Animal Kingdom at Walt Disney World has a spectacular enclosure within the Pangani Forest Trail. Excellent opportunists to view multiple families of western lowland gorillas.

To find out more about the western lowland gorilla follow the link bellow to a terrific site, documenting  two new arrivals at North Carolina Zoo,

 

Pictures of Gorillas

 ©Stuatthezoo.com

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