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  • Western lowland gorilla at Zurich Zoo

    Western lowland gorilla

    Gorilla gorilla gorilla

    Gorillas live in groups led by older males with silver-grey coloured backs. These so-called silverbacks are the most socially competent animals of a family group. They usually settle rather rare disputes between adult females by their eye contact or by intervening, but without showing physical aggression. Mutual grooming is rare among gorillas. However, they are often seen cleaning their nose, ears and eyes with their index and middle fingers. The fingernails are cleaned with the mouth. They scrub their fur on stones and tree trunks. Gorillas are rather shy of water, as they cannot swim.

    Related to Old World Monkeys, Great Apes, Gorillas (2 species), Western Gorilla (2 subspecies)
    Habitat Rainforest up to 1600 meters above sea level, marshland
    Mode of life Ground-dwelling, for sleeping also on large trees, foraging areas of the individual groups overlap considerably
    Sleeping nest Mostly on the ground, but also elevated on large crotches, up to 150 cm diameter
    Social structure Harem, silverback male with up to eight adult females and their young
    Diet Leaves, herbs, fruits, insects, rarely ants and termites
    Weight Females 70 to 110 kg, males 135 to 180 kg (in the wild rarely up to 230 kg, in zoos rarely up to 270 kg), newborns 2 kg
    Body length Males up to 180 cm, females smaller
    Arm span 230 to 260 cm
    Gestation time 8½ months
    Litter size 1 young, rarely 2 young
    First mating period Females 10 to 12 years (in zoos a bit earlier), males 11 to 13 years, but actual sexual maturity at 8 years already
    Life expectancy 35 to 40 years, in zoos up to 58 years
    Utilization Meat ("Bushmeat")
    Population trend At most 90,000 animals in the wild, strong decline (hunting, deadly Ebola diseases), in 65 European zoos about 430 animals
    At Zurich Zoo since 1931 (with interruptions), total 34 young animals (2015), internationally coordinated breeding (EEP)


    Verbreitungskarte Westlicher Flachlandgorilla


    MARY E. Bier, Luxemburg
    N'GOLA D. Hüsser, Zürich
    N'GOLA Familie Garkavenko und Zinchuk
    HAIBA Familie S. + St. + T. + L. Huber, Dielsdorf
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    Price for a sponsorship: CHF 6000.–

    Conservation status

    IUCN RedList

    Breeding programme