Gorilla | Exploring the World of Wildlife: facts about the Gorilla

Gorillas are the largest primates and one of the closest relatives of humans. Gorillas belong to the hominid family, which includes humans. Gorillas’ sense of smell, sight and touch are also similar to those of humans. Like humans, gorillas can make different sounds to communicate and convey emotions.

Here are the most interesting facts about gorillas:

Fact number one.

Gorillas are the largest primates on the planet. Gorillas are now on the brink of extinction, at least some species. Hunting them is banned everywhere. Gorillas’ DNA is ninety-eight percent identical to humans, making them one of the closest relatives of modern humans, which also includes baboons and chimpanzees. In the wild, gorillas live only in the rainforests of Africa. The most numerous gorillas are the plains gorillas. There are about one hundred and seventy-five thousand of them in the wild.

Fact number two.

These primates can learn human sign language and use it to communicate with humans. A famous scientist gorilla named Koko knew about a thousand gestures, could joke with people, understood humor, and could communicate both on specific topics and quite abstract ones.

Fact number three.

The male gorilla can grow to two meters in height and weigh more than one hundred and fifty kilograms. Females weigh considerably less. Their weight ranges from seventy-five to ninety kilograms. The brain volume of an adult animal is about six hundred cubic centimetres. The average lifespan of a gorilla is about forty to fifty years.

Fact number four.

Gorillas take eye-to-eye contact as a challenge and attack. They do not finish off defeated opponents, but simply bite them, shamefully driving them away. Gorillas always try to frighten first, growling and pounding their chest.

Fact number five.

Gorillas build nests from twigs and leaves, and the finished nest can be up to one and a half metres in diameter. Unlike other primates, gorillas prefer to build their nests on the ground rather than in trees, but there are exceptions. A young gorilla does not start building a nest until it is three years old; until then, it remains with its mother.

Fact number six.

Gorillas live in tribes. The middle group usually numbers up to thirty individuals, led by a male called the silverback. The name comes from the fact that the hair on the back of the dominant male gorilla eventually turns silver.

Fact number seven.

Mountain gorillas feed mainly on plant matter: leaves, shoots and stems, as well as a small amount of fruit. Eastern gorillas have a similar diet, but eat twenty-five percent more fruit. Western gorillas supplement their diet with aquatic plants. Both western and eastern plains gorillas also eat insects such as ants.

Fact number eight.

Pregnancy in gorillas lasts almost as long as in humans, about eight and a half months. For the first three years of their lives, gorilla cubs are completely defenseless and totally dependent on their mother to protect them. Newborn gorillas grow very quickly and are able to move around on their own at six months of age.

Fact number nine.

In an emergency, females will usually stay in the den to protect their cubs, whilst males will move out to meet potential threats. Defending their flock, they always stand to the death and do not retreat.

Fact number ten.

Gorillas have a distinctive body shape in which the belly is wider than the chest. This is because they have a large digestive system, essential for digesting large amounts of fibrous plant food.

24 September is International Gorilla Day. This event was created to encourage the world community to pay attention to the problem of the extinction of this genus of primates and give them an opportunity to participate and contribute to the preservation of the species.

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