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Mountain Gorilla 
(Gorilla gorilla beringei)

Quick Facts

A male acquires his silver back at 11-13 years of age. 

The oldest mountain gorilla that we know of in the wild lived to be 35 years of age.

A male gorilla named "Bul Bul" lived to 44 years of age at the Ueno Zoological Gardens in Tokyo

Gorillas have no natural enemies apart from people.

Mountain gorillas live high in the mountains, as high as 3,500 metres (11,500 feet).

Gorillas "display" using nine behaviours. These are: hooting, pretending to eat, rising on two legs, throwing plants, beating the chest, kicking the legs, running around, hitting or tearing out plants and thumping on the ground.

Gorillas are peaceful animals and not dangerous. They never fight with other species and they rarely fight with each other.


MountaiMountain Gorilla and babyn gorillas are primates, which is the order that includes monkeys and humans. The mountain gorilla has long, thick black hair. It has a broad, long jaw. It's arms and legs are short, and it has a long torso. It has thin hips and short, wide hands. As male mountain gorillas get older, the hair on their backs turns from black to gray or sliver. These adult males are called "silverbacks," and the dominant silverback is the leader of his group. Adult males (10 to 14 years old) weigh about 150 kg (330 lbs), which is twice as heavy as the average female. The average male is 1.7 metres tall (5 feet, 7 inches.) 

Mountain Gorillas live in the Virunga Mountains of East Central Africa. The mountain gorilla's habitat is the tropical forest, or jungle. Gorillas can only survive in places where the plants they feed on are growing. Their favourite foods include bamboo shoots, wild celery, nettles and bark. They also eat stems and roots, some berries and other fruit.

Gorillas live in family groups that number between eight and ten,Hairdo.jpg (20222 bytes) although a group as large as 30 gorillas has been recorded. The females in the group can come from several different families, so not all the gorillas are related. The strongest (dominant) silverback males mate with the females. Females are ready to mate when they are around ten years old and breed every 3 1/2 to 4 1/2 years. There is no fixed birth season. 

Mountain gorillas are endangered.  There are only about 600 left in the world.  Can you imagine a world without these wonderful animals?  You may have to.  Many groups are trying very hard to save the mountain gorilla, but war and habitat destruction are taking their toll. 


[ more on Mountain Gorillas]


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Prepared for IWRC by:

Astrid MacLeod, Manitoba, Canada
Joe MacLeod, Manitoba, Canada

Photos by:

Craig Sholley, 
African Wildlife Foundation