Gorillas look and act a lot like you, which is why they are so interesting to watch. Learn all about how these animals are similar to and different from people with fun animal facts.
Gorilla Habitat and Diet
- Most gorillas are vegetarians, but some occasionally eat bugs.
- Wild gorillas live only in specific parts of Africa.
- Western gorillas build nests in the trees for sleeping and build a new one each night.
- Cross river gorillas build nests on the ground for sleeping and use the same nest every day.
- Gorillas move around regularly to where they can find the food they want.
- Like pandas, mountain gorillas mostly eat bamboo.
There are two species of gorillas and four subspecies. Each kind of gorilla looks similar, but some are more brown in color while others are more black.
- Eastern lowland gorillas are the largest type of gorilla.
- Adult male gorillas eat roughly fifty pounds of plants every day.
- The top speed of a gorilla is about 22 miles per hour.
- Eastern gorillas are typically bigger than western gorillas by about one foot 50 to 75 pounds.
- The largest gorilla on record was named Phil and he weighed 860 pounds.
- Around age 14 male gorillas get white hair on their backs and are called "silverbacks."
Gorilla Family Life
Gorillas can live in groups of up to 20 individuals. Typically the group is led by one male who is the only one in the group allowed to mate with the females.
- Female gorillas only give birth to one baby every four to six years.
- A gorilla pregnancy lasts about eight-and-a-half months.
- Newborn gorillas only way about three or four pounds.
- Baby gorillas nurse from their mother for about three years.
- Baby gorillas don't learn to walk until they are around eight or nine months old.
- Gorillas live in families called troops.
Gorilla and Human Similarities
As one of the closest relatives to humans in the animal world, it's easy to see how people and gorillas are a lot alike.
- After chimpanzees and bonobos, gorillas are the closest cousins to humans.
- Gorillas show emotions like sadness or humor.
- Because they share so many traits with humans, gorillas can catch human diseases.
- Because they have opposable big toes, gorillas can hold things with their feet just like you hold things with your hands.
- Gorillas use tools to help make their lives easier and more comfortable.
- Gorilla moms take care of their babies in many of the same ways human moms do.
Most subspecies of gorillas are endangered because their habitat is being cut down, they are sometimes hunted by humans, and they can catch deadly diseases. Governments and organizations today are working hard to help people conserve the land where gorillas live and make sure they don't become extinct.
- There are about 100,000 to 200,000 western lowland gorillas in the world.
- Ebola is one of the most concerning diseases faced by gorillas.
- Cross river gorillas are critically endangered with fewer than 300 left in the wild.
- Mountain gorillas are also endangered with only about 700 left in the world.
- The Eastern mountain gorilla wasn't discovered until 1902.
- The cross river gorilla is the rarest ape in the world.
More Gorilla Resources
Learn more about gorillas by watching videos and reading animal books that show what they are like in real life.
- National Geographic Kids Amazing Animals series has a brief episode that shows real western lowland gorillas in the wild.
- Learn some quick fun facts about why gorillas seem scary with a clip from an episode of The Cat in the Hat.
- Read The Magic Treehouse book Good Morning, Gorillas to learn all about gorillas with Jack and Annie.
- See if your local zoo has a gorilla exhibit so you can get an in-person look at these awesome creatures.
- Find gorilla toys so you can set up your own imaginary gorilla habitat.
Get to Know the Great Ape
Although gorillas can look intimidating, they are typically peaceful and loving creatures. Get to know more about this great ape so you can help make sure they survive for centuries more.