Gorillas Are Very Powerful Apes

The Gorilla

The Gorillas, Gorilla gorilla, and Gorilla beringei, are the biggest primates. A male Gorilla normally weighs up to about 200 Kg (440lb) although in captivity obese Gorillas have weighed more than this. A female weighs about half as much.


Gorillas are mainly herbivorous, eating leaves, shoots and fruit. They are better able to digest fibrous foods than Humans and other apes. Although these are their main foods, they also eat insects. This is both incidental to eating their plant food, and deliberate. They will eat Termites in the same way as Chimpanzees and Bonobos do.


Gorillas are not naturally aggressive to Human Beings although they will certainly defend themselves from any perceived attack.


The nearest relatives of the two Gorilla Species are Humans, Chimpanzees and Bonobos. The distance of these three species from Gorillas is equal, despite appearances to the contrary.

Social Organisation

Gorillas live in groups. The groups are led by a mature male. These males are referred to as Silverbacks because when they reach full maturity at about 12 years old they get a silver patch of hair on their backs.

The Silverback leads the group and provides it with protection. Mature male Gorillas are powerful animals. Although they are not meat eaters, they are armed with large canine teeth. They are also exceedingly strong. Even a lion would be sensible to think twice about attacking a troop of Gorillas.
In theory, the Silverback also has the exclusive right to mate with the females. This does not mean that a younger male never gets a chance, but he would need to do it warily.

Younger, sexually mature, males are referred to as Blackbacks and will help the Silverback to defend the troop.

Leaving the Group

When they are mature at about 11 or 12 the young males will normally leave the troop and go off either by themselves, or in a group of other young males for a few years until they are able to attract some females. If a Silverback leader dies, the females and young Gorillas will go off and try to find another mature male.


Gorillas are more violent than Bonobos, but less violent than either Chimpanzees or Humans. They do not make war, and several troops will share the same, or overlapping, home ranges.
Guerrilla Warfare is something completely different.

Tool Use

In the wild, Gorillas have been observed to use both wooden and stone tools. Their use of tools is probably less than Bonobos, Chimpanzees or Humans.

Types of Gorilla

There are two species of Gorilla, and each species has subspecies.

Gorilla gorilla

This is the first Gorilla species to be recognized. Its subspecies live in the western end of Gorilla country. And it is sometimes called the Western Gorilla.

Western Gorilla Subspecies

The Western Lowland Gorilla, Gorilla gorilla gorilla, lives in the lowland tropical rain forests of western Africa.