Fun Gorillas Facts For Kids

Moumita Dutta
Nov 15, 2022 By Moumita Dutta
Originally Published on Aug 05, 2021
Edited by Jacob Fitzbright
Fact-checked by Chandan Shukla
Fun facts about gorillas for kids

Gorillas belong to the family of apes and happen to the biggest living apes in the primate family with DNA nearly similar to humans and the close relatives of other primates like chimpanzees and bonobos.

As per the scientific name they are known as gorilla beringei and were known to have been our distant and common ancestors nearly five million years ago.

They are originally from the natural tropical and sub-tropical forests in the central part of the Central African Republic, in Sub-Saharan Africa, but are known to cover more ground with wider elevations.

The class of gorillas can be distinguished between several categories, namely cross river gorillas, the eastern lowland gorilla, and the western gorilla which can be further divided into four to five subspecies. Mountain gorillas can be found near the Virunga Mountains in high altitudes and also the Virunga National Park.

Gorillas from lowlands can be found living in the more dense forests, marshes, and swamps which can be as low as the sea level.

Western lowland gorillas are usually found in West Africa and eastern gorillas are found in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Even though the number of gorillas is quite high in Central Africa, it is said to be one of the most endangered apes and classified as Critically Endangered by the IUCN.

The word 'gorilla' was derived from the history of Hanno the Navigator Carthaginian explorer on an expedition to the West African coast where he had encountered 'savage people' mostly women covered with hair on their skin, who was called 'Gorillae' which means 'tribe of hairy women' in Ancient Greek. 

Gorilla Interesting Facts

What type of animal are gorillas?

Gorillas are apes that belong to the family of Hominidae. They are known to be the biggest apes in the primate family which originated from the sub-Saharan tropical areas of Africa.

The eastern lowland gorilla is also found in the Virunga mountains and the Democratic Republic of Congo. There are also other different types of gorillas like Rwanda gorillas, red gorillas, Ugandan gorillas, and silverback gorillas.

What class of animal do gorillas belong to?

Gorillas, just like all other primates of the primate family are mammals and give birth to one birth per litter.

How many gorillas are there in the world?

There are about 20,000 individual gorillas in the world and despite such a high number, they have been rendered critically endangered because of the threat to their population caused by habitat loss due to deforestation and poaching.

Where do gorillas live?

Gorillas mainly inhabit the natural tropical and sub-tropical forests of Africa in areas like dense forests, bogs, and marshes. The Western gorillas inhabit the Central West African countries and the Eastern gorillas inhabit the Republic of Congo. Species of mountain gorillas however can be found in higher altitudes near montane cloud forests of the Albertine Rift.

What is a gorilla's habitat?

An average gorilla's habitat is primarily based in the tropical forests and lowland areas which are known to have lengthened periods of dry seasons. These areas comprise trees with dense foliage, succulent plants, and thorny shrubs.

They also inhabit marshes and bogs full of vegetation. They barely drink much water, getting their hydration from their consumption of greens and plants. Certain species of gorillas, such as the mountain gorilla, inhabit places of higher altitude which are remarkably packed with biodiversity and fertile areas to grow plants in.

Who do gorillas live with?

Gorillas usually live in family groups. This group of gorillas is called a troop which consists of one adult male, or silverback, a number of adult females, and their babies.

A silverback is a species of a gorilla who are the dominant gorilla males and are usually more than 12 years old and have a distinctive patch of silver hair on their back caused by their maturity, earning them the name silverback. These mature males also have long canine teeth brought about by maturity.

Some mature males may also leave their family groups to make their own new troops by attracting migrating female gorillas.

Females usually migrate to other family groups or troops when their silverback leader dies and have nobody to lead or protect them. Without a silverback, the infants will most likely die due to infanticide or get eaten by leopards.

The silverback gorillas are responsible for decision-making, resolving conflicts, leading others to feeding sites, and protecting the troop. Younger males known as blackbacks who are the subordinates of the silverback serve as backup protection.

How do they reproduce?

Gorillas' mating habits, mainly western gorillas, the eastern gorilla, gorillas in Congo, Rwanda gorillas, and the like are based on a few factors including their reproductive cycle.

The eastern lowland female gorillas are mainly known to reach sexual maturity by the time they reach 10 to 12 years of age. Despite having their ovulation cycle start early they still remain infertile until they reach 10 years.

The dominant silverback gorilla mates with all the females in their troop.

The female gorilla is the one who starts the mating process when ready to mate with the males. They address the dominant male by gradually making continued eye contact and also by pursing her lips.

When the males fail to respond, they approach the other males in the troop for mating.

They are also known to make their nests on the ground.

Any female gorilla including the eastern gorilla, cross river gorilla, and other species of a gorilla, after mating the pregnant gorillas have a gestation period of around eight and a half months which is similar to that of humans and tend to give birth to only one baby at a time in four years alternatively and produce, at most, eight babies in their lifetime.

In Central Africa and the Democratic Republic of Congo, including the mountain gorillas in the Virunga mountains, the pregnant female gorillas eat, stretch, and give birth in the morning.

What is their conservation status?

Gorillas are high in number reaching an approximate count of 200,000 in the world. However, the steadily diminishing population had rendered them critically endangered by the IUCN due to illegal acts of poaching, habitat loss due to human activities and life-threatening diseases.

Gorilla Fun Facts

What do gorillas look like?

Gorillas are the largest living primates known to reach a great height of five or six feet in height with a hairy body covered with dark greyish, black, or jet black colored fur, strongly built bodies, and move with the help of their knuckles.

The eastern gorilla has darker colored fur than the western gorillas with the darkest being mountain gorillas who are also known to have the thickest hair.

The western lowland gorillas are usually brown or grayish in color with a reddish forehead. The lowland gorillas are more slender and agile than the heavy mountain gorillas.

Eastern gorillas have a distinctively longer face and a more broad chest than western gorillas.

Similar to humans, gorillas are known to have unique fingerprints. Their eyes are commonly dark brown in color and are framed by one black ring surrounding the iris.

How cute are they?

Adult wild gorillas of the gorilla beringei family are more fascinating creatures rather than being cute ones. However, baby gorillas are exceptionally cute during their infant stage. These great apes are more elegant to look at in their natural habitat in groups.

How do they communicate?

As the world's largest species of primates in the forest wildlife, gorillas communicate in a number of ways. Gorillas in groups use sounds, facial expressions, gestures, and postures to communicate with other gorillas that live in the wild.

Most gorilla species, including the western lowland gorilla, mountain gorilla, eastern lowland gorilla are usually affectionate and gentle creatures and are known to make 22 different sounds to express distinctive feelings, such as happy snickering and frightened screams.

They even belch when they get the feeling of contentment. Gorillas address other gorillas by rubbing their noses, and even with an embrace.

How big are gorillas?

The gorilla beringei is known to be the largest apes that live on earth amongst the wildlife in the gorilla habitat. They are distinguished by their mammoth-sized bodies which are distinctively larger than other primates.

The adult gorilla's size can reach a height of 4 ft 7 in - 5 ft 11 in (1.4 m - 1.8 m). The females however are comparatively shorter at 4 ft 1 in - 4 ft 11 in (1.25 - 1.5 m).

How fast can gorillas run?

Gorillas are known to be a knuckle-walking species of apes of the forest wildlife when they move around in their habitat. However, they can run on their two feet when carrying food in life-threatening situations. While using knuckles, they can reach up to 20mph (25 kph).

How much do gorillas weigh?

An adult male gorilla will usually weigh from 300 lb - 500 lb (136 kg - 227 kg) and wild adult females weigh between 150 lb –250 lb (68 kg – 113 kg).

What are their male and female names of the species?

The gorilla wildlife population does not have any specific name based on their genders. The adult dominant male gorillas who are leaders of the troops are called silverbacks.

What would you call a baby gorilla?

All baby gorillas amongst the forest wildlife including that of mountain gorillas from Virunga national park, western lowland gorillas, are generally called infants. Females can birth only one baby every four to six years.

What do they eat?

Gorillas are predominantly vegetarians. Usually, species from the population of western lowland gorillas mainly feed on bamboo shoots, stems, and fruits and that is all they eat. Gorillas like Western lowland gorillas, however, are known to consume termites, termite larvae, and ants.

Are they aggressive?

Species from the gorilla beringei population are usually very gentle creatures who aren't very territorial. They are hardly violent but can be exceedingly dangerous when they are provoked. They can show intimidation by beating their chests and their brute strength can drive away strong predators as well. Usually, gorillas roaring is caused by provocation.

Would they make a good pet?

Gorillas, despite being adorable creatures especially when they are infants, do not make ideal pets. Other than having to provide large quantities of green vegetation, it will be hard to achieve a gorilla's habitat in an enclosed space like a home.

To top everything, when feeling intimidated, they can be quite aggressive and destructive. If one would have to make a choice between gorillas vs chimpanzees as pets, chimpanzees would be a better choice for a primate pet.

Did you know...

For most species of the gorilla beringei population including that of mountain gorillas of Virunga national park, western lowland gorilla, cross river gorillas, Rwanda gorillas, and other species of wild forest, the gorilla's life cycle and life expectancy is similar to humans. Gorillas live up to between 35 and 40 years of age.

How much DNA do humans share with gorillas?

We share about 96% of our DNA with gorillas, meaning that we are, in a sense, more than twice as much like a chimpanzee as we are a gorilla.

How many different types of calls do gorillas have?

A forest gorilla from the gorilla family usually has more than 22 distinctive calls with the most common call that is attributed to a gorilla being known as belching.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other mammals including the Japanese macaque and the capuchin monkey.

You can even occupy yourself at home by drawing one of our gorilla coloring pages.

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Written by Moumita Dutta

Bachelor of Arts specializing in Journalism and Mass Communication, Postgraduate Diploma in Sports Management

Moumita Dutta picture

Moumita DuttaBachelor of Arts specializing in Journalism and Mass Communication, Postgraduate Diploma in Sports Management

A content writer and editor with a passion for sports, Moumita has honed her skills in producing compelling match reports and stories about sporting heroes. She holds a degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from the Indian Institute of Social Welfare and Business Management, Calcutta University, alongside a postgraduate diploma in Sports Management.

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Fact-checked by Chandan Shukla

Bachelor of Science specializing in Computer Science

Chandan Shukla picture

Chandan ShuklaBachelor of Science specializing in Computer Science

With a Bachelor's degree in Computer Science from Aryabhatta College, University of Delhi, Chandan is a skilled and passionate technophile. He has completed a machine learning training program and is adept in various programming languages. He has been working as a content writer for two years while also striving to become a proficient tech professional.

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