Western lowland gorilla in exhibit

Western Lowland Gorilla

Scientific Name
Gorilla gorilla gorilla
Geographic Range
Congo Basin of Central Africa
Leaves, stems, shrubs, vines, and fruits
Western lowland gorilla in exhibit Endangered Status Graph - Critically Endangered Endangered Status Graph - Critically Endangered

More Information

Male and female western lowland gorillas have gray-black to dark brown coats, but males are larger than females at up to 6 feet and 500 pounds. Adult males have conical heads due to the bony crest at the top and back of their skull. Mature silverbacks can be distinguished by the saddle of white hair across their back. Adults spend most of their time on the ground, making nests by tucking vegetation around themselves while sitting.

These gorillas live in troops made up of a silverback, females, younger blackback males (between 8-12 years old), juveniles, and infants. Troops generally have home ranges that are between 9–14 square miles. Their young are born after an 8.5-month gestation and reach maturity between 6–9 years of age. Males will eventually leave and form bachelor groups or challenge an established silverback for control of a family group.

Did You Know?

  • Gorillas are the largest great apes, while western lowland gorillas are the smallest of the gorilla subspecies.
  • While generally peaceful, dominant males will protect troops with an elaborate display involving standing up and slapping the chest with open hands while vocalizing. They do not use clenched fists as often shown on TV.
  • Western lowland gorillas have lost more than 80% of their population over the last 70 years in a continuing trend. Gorillas are also losing their habitat as a result of agricultural development, including palm oil plantations.


Species Survival Plan logo

Species Survival Plan®

We cooperate with other members of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums to manage the zoo population of this species through a Species Survival Plan®.

Learn More

SAFE: Saving animals From Extinction logo

Saving Animals From Extinction

AZA SAFE: Saving Animals From Extinction focuses the collective expertise within AZA-accredited zoos and aquariums and leverages their audiences to save species.

Learn More

Animal Care staff working with seal

Commitment to Care

Lincoln Park Zoo prioritizes individual well-being over everything else. Guided by scientific research, staff and volunteers work to provide the best welfare outcomes for each individual in the zoo’s care.

Learn More

Support Your Zoo

Two Chilean flamingos in exhibit

Animals Depend On People Too

When you ADOPT an animal, you support world-class animal care by helping to provide specially formulated diets, new habitat elements, and regular veterinary checkups.

Adopt an Animal

Asian small-clawed otter in exhibit

Wish List

The Wish List is full of one-of-a-kind items for the zoo’s animals, including nutritious snacks and enrichment items to keep them active and healthy.

Browse the Wish List

African penguin eating a fish

Take Action With Us

Wildlife face many daunting challenges—some global, like planet-wide climate change, and some that affect individuals, like an animal ingesting plastic—but now is not the time to despair. None of these problems are too big for us to come together and solve.

Take Action

Empty Playlist