Western lowland gorilla

Latin Name
Gorilla gorilla gorilla

Class
Mammals

Order
Primates

Description

The western lowland gorilla is the largest of the living primates. Males can be up to 6 feet tall and 400 pounds while females range to 5 feet and 200 pounds. They have black to brown-gray coats that turn gray with age.

Adult males have a broad, silvery-white "saddle" on the back, extending to rump and thighs. The species has small ears and nostrils bordered by broad ridges that extend to the upper lip. Young have a white tuft of hair on the rump.


 

Range

Cameroon, Central African Republic, Gabon, Congo and Equatorial Guinea


Status

The gorilla is listed as critically endangered, and commercial trade of this species is prohibited by international law. The principal causes of population decline are habitat destruction and hunting.

Poachers prize adult males and disrupt troops by killing leaders. Lincoln Park Zoo participates in the Gorilla Species Survival Plan® and is world famous for its success in breeding western lowland gorillas.


Habitat

Tropical secondary forest: the herbs, shrubs and vines that make up its diet grow best where the open canopy allows plenty of light to reach the forest floor.


Niche

Western lowland gorillas are herbivorous, feeding mainly on leaves and stems, although they never strips one site completely. The western subspecies takes a higher proportion of fruit—a more limited resource—which appears to limit troop size to 5–10 individuals.

Troops consist of a dominant silverback plus a harem of females with their young, including subadult males. Lone males occur, and troop ranges can overlap.

The species is diurnal (active during the day) and mainly terrestrial. Gorillas walk on the soles of rear feet and the knuckles of forelimbs. They will build nests on the ground or in trees (especially young gorillas).


Life History

Mating is non-seasonal, with a single young born after a 9-month gestation period. Infants weigh 4–5 pounds. They cling to dam within a few days of birth, crawl at about nine weeks, walk at about five months and are weaned at 2–3 years. Females mature at 7–8 years, males later. Females leave these troop to join other troops or lone males; adult males leave without conflict.




Bonus Content

Playtime for Baby Gorillas
Baby gorillas Patty and Nayembi are getting plenty of play in as they grow at Regenstein Center for African Apes. Curator of Primates Maureen Leahy explains the importance of play for gorilla development.


Sweet Treats for Valentine’s Day
To celebrate the holiday, our animal care experts offered the gorillas at Regenstein Center for African Apes some special treats. Watch mom Bana and baby Patty enjoy gelatin hearts...although Patty has to get her own!


What’s Inside the Pumpkin?
It’s more Halloween fun at Lincoln Park Zoo as juvenile gorilla Azizi discovers a special snack inside a pumpkin carved for him by the caregivers at Regenstein Center for African Apes.


Nayembi Reunited
Baby gorilla Nayembi has been reintroduced to her mom, Rollie, and mother-and-daughter pair Bana and Patty behind the scenes at Regenstein Center for African Apes. As this video shows, the group, including Nayembi and Rollie, are getting along well!


See Baby Nayembi Crawl Around Her Exhibit
Western lowland gorilla Nayembi, who was injured in February, is thriving under 24-hour care by Lincoln Park Zoo animal care staff and will soon be reunited with her troop. As you can see, the 6-month-old gorilla is trying new foods, exploring her enclosure, and getting lessons in how to act like an ape.


Baby Gorilla Bonding
Mom Bana snuggles with baby gorilla Patty, born October 11.


With social species, like gorillas, every move has to take into account complex group dynamics. Animals like female Kowali, pictured here, may move to new homes to provide other individuals the companionship they need.

How Are the Animals Paired Up?
Gorillas prefer social groups, Amur tigers enjoy the solitary life, but every pairing is carefully planned by experts.

Baby gorilla Patty enjoys a first birthday treat this fall.

Juggling Four Babies
Looking back at a busy year, Curator of Primates Maureen Leahy shares how you care—and prepare—for four zoo babies: gorillas Patty and Nayembi, Francois’ langur Pierre and white-cheeked gibbon Daxin.

Baby gorilla Nayembi enjoys some special enrichment for her first birthday.

Happy Birthday to Our Baby Gorillas
It was a happy birthday for baby gorillas Nayembi and Patty! The zoo's Volunteer Enrichment Group and caregivers shared some fun edible enrichment at Regenstein Center for African Apes.

Gorilla baby Patty and mom Bana are living in their full social group again, with females Susie and Bahati joining the troop led by silverback Kwan.

Post from the President—Growing Gorillas
President and CEO Kevin Bell shares what's new with the gorillas at Regenstein Center for African Apes, including bachelor play and full reintroductions for babies Patty and Nayembi.

Silverback gorilla Kwan digs into a pumpkin provided by animal care staff at Regenstein Center for African Apes.

Happy Halloween!
There are no tricks, only treats at Lincoln Park Zoo as gorillas, pied tamarins and rhinos enjoy some special pumpkin enrichment.

Baby gorilla Nayembi on exhibit with mom Rollie at Regenstein Center for African Apes.

Post from the President—Baby Gorillas Back on Exhibit
President and CEO Kevin Bell shares the latest milestone in Nayembi's recovery--an introduction to dad, silverback Kwan, on exhibit at Regenstein Center for African Apes. The core family group is now together again, although work is still ahead.

Before he grew into an imposing zoo icon, gorilla Bushman was once a baby cared for by Winifred Hope Smith in Cameroon.

Last Visit
Before he grew into a zoo icon, gorilla Bushman was once a baby cared for by Winifred Hope Smith in Cameroon. Learn about Winifred’s life with Bushman—and her last visit to Lincoln Park Zoo.

Type Casting
A blood-type database for great apes now provides animal care givers and vets worldwide with a valuable resource, thanks to a compassionate response to the loss of a gorilla at the zoo in 2005.

Mosi, one of the zoo’s bachelor troop gorillas

An Array of Apes
Enjoy these portraits of the zoo’s apes, from babies to bachelors.

The first of last year’s babies born at Regenstein Center for African Apes, Patty snuggles here with mom Bana.

Happy Valentine’s Day!
We celebrate the cute and cuddly aspect of the holiday by looking back at photos from a year of new arrivals, including baby takins, zebras, birds and gorillas.

Now three months old, Patty shows off her newly sprouted teeth next to mom Bana.

Two Gorilla Babies, Two Very Different Moms
Curator of Primates Maureen Leahy offers a gorilla baby update and breaks down the different parenting styles of moms Bana and Rollie.

Bana holds her baby, Patty, who was born October 11.

Gorilla Matchmaking and Family Planning
How did zoo matchmakers choose the pairings that produced two gorilla babies at Regenstein Center for African Apes? Scientist Sarah Long shares the details

Support the zoo’s newest baby—and all our amazing animals--with a Baby Gorilla ADOPT!

Support the Troop with a Baby Gorilla ADOPT
Looking for a fun way to support the zoo’s newest baby—and all our amazing animals? Take home a baby gorilla ADOPT today!

Two gorilla moms at Regenstein Center for African Apes. Bana and Patty are in the foreground while Rollie and the new baby are in the background.

A Second Gorilla Baby
President and CEO Kevin Bell shares the season’s second baby gorilla at Regenstein Center for African Apes!

Baby gorilla Patty is snuggled close as mom Bana enjoys a healthy snack.

It's a Girl!
President and CEO Kevin Bell shares more about baby gorilla Patty.

The arrival of baby gorilla Patty spurs Fisher Center Director Steve Ross to share how primate families teach little ones how to live like adults.

Learning How to Be a Gorilla from Mom
The arrival of baby gorilla Patty spurs Fisher Center Director Steve Ross to share how primate families teach little ones how to live like adults.

The baby gorilla snuggles close to mom Bana.

Welcoming a Gorilla Baby
President and CEO Kevin Bell shares the zoo’s baby gorilla born October 11.

 

Juvenile gorilla Azizi explores his new exhibit at Regenstein Center for African Apes

Two Bachelors and a Baby
President and CEO Kevin Bells shares a baby titi monkey and the first sign of bachelor gorillas at Regenstein Center for African Apes.

Silverback gorilla Kwan engages Chicago-themed enrichment as part of the celebration of the city's 175th birthday.

Sweet Home Chicago
Lincoln Park Zoo's animals were offered Chicago-style enrichment to celebrate the city's 175th birthday in July 2012. See how chimpanzees, gorillas, meerkats and more reacted to the skyline-sized fun.

Female gorilla Susie climbs one of the yard’s boulders.

Gorilla Gardens Slideshow
Lincoln Park Zoo’s gardeners worked hard to replant one of the outdoor gorilla exhibits at Regenstein Center for African Apes in spring 2012. Their work was rewarded as the great apes headed outside for edible treats.

Juvenile gorilla Azizi

A Gorilla Bachelor Party
Lincoln Park Zoo is ready to welcome an all-male gorilla bachelor group this summer--the latest milestone in a historic legacy of care for the species.

Juvenile gorilla Azizi

Meet the Bachelors
Amare, Azizi, Mosi and Umande—meet the gorillas who will form Lincoln Park Zoo's first bachelor group!

 


Lincoln Park Zoo Exhibit