Western Gorilla, Gorilla gorilla gorilla
July 2006

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TAXONOMY & NOMENCLATURE
(Clifford, 2004) (Garner & Ryder, 1996) (Groves, 2001) (Groves, 2006) (Ruvolo, 1994)
(Sarmiento, 2000) (Wilson & Reeder, 2005)

Describer :  Savage & Wyman (1847). Boston Journal of Natural History, 5:417

Kingdom: Animal
    Phylum: Chordata
        Class: Mammalia
            Order: Primates
                Family: Hominidae
                    Subfamily: Homininae
                        Genus: Gorilla
                            Species: Gorilla gorilla (Western gorilla)
                                Subspecies: Gorilla gorilla gorilla (Western lowland gorilla)
                                Subspecies: Gorilla gorilla diehli (Cross River gorilla)
                            Species: Gorilla beringei (Eastern gorilla)
                                Subspecies: Gorilla beringei beringei (Mountain gorilla)
                                Subspecies: Gorilla beringei graueri (Eastern lowland gorilla)

                        Genus: Homo
                            Species: Homo sapiens
                        Genus: Pan
                            Species: Pan paniscus
                            Species: Pan troglodytes
                    Subfamily: Ponginae
                        Genus: Pongo
                            Species: Pongo abelii (Sumatran orangutan)
                            Species: Pongo pygmaeus (Bornean orangutan)


Taxonomic History and Nomenclature Phylogeny

DISTRIBUTION & HABITAT
(Tutin, 1997) (Taylor & Goldsmith, 2002) (Ferriss 2005)

Distribution

 
Habitat

PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS
(Caldecott & Ferriss, 2005) (Nowak, 1999) (Perroux, et al., 2009)

Weight: Male 136-181 kg (300-400 lb) / Female 72-98 kg (159-216 lb)
Height: 1400-1750 mm (4.6-5.74 ft)

Pelage

Sexual Dimorphism: Adult male is almost twice the size of the female

Other Physical Characteristics: Gorillas are the largest primate



BEHAVIOR & ECOLOGY
(Doran & McNeilage, 1998) (Doran-Sheehy et al, 2004) (Tutin, 1996) (Fay, 1995) (Robbins, 2004) 
(Schaller 1963) (Maple, 1982) (Barmejo, 2004) (Fossey, 1984)

Long-term Studies Activity Cycle Territory Size   (Barmejo, 2004) Social Groups

      General        Aggression Nest Building (Schaller, 1963) Play Communication Locomotion Interspecies Interaction

DIET & FEEDING
(Remis, 2003) (Rogers, et al, 2004) (Deblauwe, et al, 2003)
(Cipolietta, 2004) (Schaller, 1990)

Daily Food Intake Diet Morphological Adaptation Culture

REPRODUCTION & DEVELOPMENT
(Robbins, 2004) (Maple & Hoff, 1982) (Watts, 1991) (Grzimek, 1990) (Fossey, 1982)

Sexual Maturity: Age at first reproduction not yet measured at any Western site. Following data based on Mountain gorillas and captive gorillas.
Courtship
  • Not observed for western gorillas in the wild.
  • Females at Virunga and in captivity indicate receptivity.
    -First mating ~7.5 years. First conception ~8.5 years
  • Adult females mate with silverback on different days
  • Copulations occur during travel-feed periods
Estrus cycle: estrus period = 1-2 days, 22-38 day cycle.
First pregnancy: 8.5-10 years
Gestation: 251-295 days
Young per birth: 1, twins rare
Reproductive Rate: 3.5 - 4.5 year birth interval
Infant mortality: varies depending on group 8%-43% 

Life Stages
  • Develop twice as fast as humans
  • Infants (0-3 years)
    - crawl at 3 months
    - begin eating some plants at 2.5 months
    - 4-6 months - run on all fours
    - climb at 6-7 months
  • Weaning - 3 years+
  • Juveniles (3-6 years)
  • Sub-adults (6-8 years)
  • Adult female > 8 years
  • Blackbacks / adult males (8-11 years) Silvering of hair begins around age 10.
  • Young silverbacks (12-15 years)
  • Silverbacks >15
Longevity
  • Unknown in the wild
  • 53 in zoo

 



MANAGED CARE
(Wharton, 2002)
Health Concerns

POPULATION AND CONSERVATION STATUS
(Sarmietnto, 2003) (Furniss, 2005) (IUCN, 2008)

Population Status (Furniss 2005) Conservation Threats to survival
Important Web Resources:

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