Western lowland gorilla

Western lowland gorilla
Jock (male) at Bristol Zoo, England, September 2004.
Conservation status
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Primates
Family: Hominidae
Genus: Gorilla
Species: G. gorilla
Subspecies: G. g. gorilla
Trinomial name
Gorilla gorilla gorilla
(Savage, 1847)
Skull of a male subject

The western lowland gorilla (Gorilla gorilla gorilla) is a subspecies of the western gorilla (Gorilla gorilla) that lives in montane, primary, and secondary forests and lowland swamps in Angola, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Congo, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Equatorial Guinea and Gabon. It is the gorilla usually found in zoos.[2] Adult male Gorillas are prone to cardiomyopathy, a degenerative heart disease.[citation needed]



Western lowland gorilla groups travel within a home range averaging 3 to 18 miles². Gorillas do not display territorial behaviour, and neighboring groups often overlap ranges (Bermejo, 2004, Doran et al., 2004). The group usually favours a certain area within the home range but seems to follow a seasonal pattern depending upon the availability of ripening fruits and, at some sites, localised large open clearings (swamps and "bais"). Gorillas normally travel 0.3–1.8 miles per day. Populations feeding on high-energy foods that vary spatially and seasonally tend to have greater day ranges than those feeding on lower-quality but more consistently available foods. Larger groups travel greater distances in order to obtain sufficient food (Remis, 1997b). Human hunters and leopards can also influence the movement patterns.

Gorillas live in family groupings of one dominant male, five to seven adult females, children and adolescents, and possibly a few non-dominant males. Gorillas reproduce slowly because females do not begin reproducing until the age of nine or ten and usually only produce one baby approximately every five years.[3]


The western lowland gorilla is the smallest subspecies of gorilla. A male standing erect can be 5–6 feet (1.5–1.8 m) tall and weigh 300–600 pounds (140–270 kg).[4] Females stand 5 feet (1.5 m) tall and weigh half as much as males.[4] According to the late John Aspinall, a silverback gorilla in his prime has the physical strength of 7–8 Olympic weight lifters but this claim is unverified.


The western lowland gorilla eats plants (including bamboo), and occasionally insects and small reptiles. Males eat up to 9 kg (20 lb) a day.


In the 1980s, a census taken of the gorilla populations in equatorial Africa was thought to be 100,000.[5] Researchers adjusted the figure after years of poaching and deforestation had reduced the population to approximately 50,000.[5] Surveys conducted by the Wildlife Conservation Society in 2006 and 2007 found more than 100,000 previously unreported gorillas have been living in the swamp forests of Lake Tele Community Reserve and in neighboring Marantaceae (dryland) forests in the Republic of the Congo.[5] With the new discovery, the current population of western lowland gorillas could be around 150,000–200,000. However, gorillas remain vulnerable to Ebola, deforestation, and poaching.

Zoos worldwide have a population of 550 Western Lowland Gorillas and the Cincinnati Zoo leads the United States in Western lowland gorilla births.[2]

Famous western lowland gorillas in captivity

  • Babec – On exhibit at the Birmingham Zoo in Birmingham, Alabama (USA) and was the first gorilla to receive an artificial pacemaker.
  • Beta – First ever gorilla to undergo hip replacement (three times: 1995, 2005, 2007). Lived at Brookfield Zoo with guenons. Died 2008.
  • Binti Jua – Saved a three-year-old boy that fell into her habitat in 1996 at Brookfield Zoo.
  • Charles – A silverback and resident of the Toronto Zoo since 1974. Known for his painting abilities.
  • Colo – First gorilla to be born in captivity anywhere in the world and currently the oldest gorilla in captivity in the world. She was born at the Columbus Zoo to Millie Christina (mother) and Baron Macombo (father) on December 22, 1956.
  • Goma – First gorilla born in a European zoo. Celebrated her 50th birthday on September 23, 2009 at Zoo Basel.
  • Guy the Gorilla – Large Western Lowland Gorilla that belonged to the London Zoo.
  • Jambo – World-famous gorilla born at Zoo Basel and then transferred to the Jersey Zoo. On August 31, 1986, the five year old Levan Merritt fell into the gorilla enclosure and lost consciousness. Jambo stood guard over the boy when he was unconscious. Jersey Zoo has erected a bronze statue of Jambo. Both a book and a documentary were made.
  • Koko – Female western lowland gorilla whose trainer taught to use sign language to communicate.
  • Massa – This former resident of the Philadelphia Zoo set the longevity record of 54 years at the time of his death in 1984.[4]
  • Snowflake – The only albino gorilla known to date. Lived at Barcelona Zoo. Euthanized 2003.
  • Tam-tam – First zoo gorilla who grew up in its gorilla group. Born to Goma at Zoo Basel.


  1. ^ Walsh, P. D., Tutin, C. E. G., Baillie, J. E. M., Maisels, F., Stokes, E. J. & Gatti, S. (2008). Gorilla gorilla ssp. gorilla. In: IUCN 2008. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Downloaded on 4 January 2009.
  2. ^ a b Prince-Hughes, Dawn (1987). Songs of the Gorilla Nation. Harmony. p. 66. ISBN 1400050588. 
  3. ^ Planet Of No Apes? Experts Warn It's Close CBS News Online, 2007-09-12. Retrieved 2008-03-22.
  4. ^ a b c "Western lowland gorilla". Philadelphia Zoo. http://www.philadelphiazoo.org/zoo/Meet-Our-Animals/Mammals/Primates/Western-Lowland-Gorilla.htm. Retrieved 2011-11-01. 
  5. ^ a b c CNN (2008-08-05). "More than 100,000 rare gorillas found in Congo". CNN. http://www.cnn.com/2008/WORLD/africa/08/05/congo.gorillas/index.html. Retrieved 2008-08-05. 

External links

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Western Lowland Gorilla — Taxobox name = Western Lowland Gorilla status = CR status system = iucn3.1 status ref = IUCN2007 | assessors = Tutin, C., Walsh, P., Baillie, J., Maisels, F. Stokes, E. | year = 2007 | title = Gorilla gorilla ssp. gorilla | id = 9406 | downloaded …   Wikipedia

  • western lowland gorilla — noun a kind of gorilla • Syn: ↑Gorilla gorilla gorilla • Hypernyms: ↑gorilla, ↑Gorilla gorilla • Member Holonyms: ↑genus Gorilla …   Useful english dictionary

  • western lowland gorilla. — See under gorilla. * * * …   Universalium

  • western lowland gorilla. — See under gorilla …   Useful english dictionary

  • lowland gorilla — noun : either of two gorillas (Gorilla gorilla gorilla or G. gorilla graueri) that inhabit lowland rainforests of west central Africa * * * the eastern lowland gorilla or western lowland gorilla. See under gorilla …   Useful english dictionary

  • lowland gorilla — the eastern lowland gorilla or western lowland gorilla. See under gorilla. * * * …   Universalium

  • Eastern lowland gorilla — Conservation status Endangered (IU …   Wikipedia

  • Eastern Lowland Gorilla — Taxobox name = Eastern Lowland Gorilla status = EN status system = iucn3.1 status ref = IUCN2006|assessors=Butynski et al |year=2000|id=39995|title=Gorilla beringei ssp. graueri|downloaded=10 May 2006] trend = down image width = 200px regnum =… …   Wikipedia

  • Western gorilla — Western gorilla[1] Conservation status …   Wikipedia

  • Gorilla — For other uses, see Gorilla (disambiguation). Blackback and Silverback redirect here. For other uses, see Blackback (disambiguation) and Silverback (disambiguation). Gorillas[1] …   Wikipedia

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