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?Western lowland gorilla
Conservation status: Critical[1]
Male western lowland gorilla
Male western lowland gorilla
Female and juvenile
Female and juvenile
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Primates
Family: Hominidae
Genus: Gorilla
Species: G. gorilla
Subspecies: G. g. gorilla
Trinomial name
Gorilla gorilla gorilla
(Savage, 1847)

The western lowland gorilla (Gorilla gorilla gorilla) is a subspecies of the western gorilla (Gorilla gorilla) that lives in montane, primary, and secondary forests and lowland swamps in central Africa in Angola, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Congo, Equatorial Guinea and Gabon. It is the gorilla usually found in zoos.[2] Adult male Gorillas are prone to cardiomyopathy, a degenerative heart disease.[3]

Physical description[edit | edit source]

File:Gorilla Male Global.jpg

Skull of a male subject

The western lowland gorilla is the smallest subspecies of gorilla. A male standing erect can be 5–6ft tall and weigh 300-600lb.[4] According to the Guinness Book of World Records, the average male is Template:Convert/LoffAonDbSoffTemplate:Convert/test/Aon and stands upright at Template:Convert/cmTemplate:Convert/test/Aon.[5] Females stand Template:Convert/ftTemplate:Convert/test/A tall and weigh half as much as males.[4] According to the late John Aspinall, a silverback gorilla in his prime has the physical strength of 7–8 Olympic weight lifters but this claim is unverified.

Behavior[edit | edit source]


Western lowland gorillas at a zoo in Japan

Western lowland gorilla groups travel within a home range averaging Template:Convert/-Template:Convert/test/Aon. Gorillas do not display territorial behavior, and neighboring groups often overlap ranges.[6][7] The group usually favours a certain area within the home range but seems to follow a seasonal pattern depending upon the availability of ripening fruits and, at some sites, localised large open clearings (swamps and "bais"). Gorillas normally travel Template:Convert/-Template:Convert/test/Aon per day. Populations feeding on high-energy foods that vary spatially and seasonally tend to have greater day ranges than those feeding on lower-quality but more consistently available foods. Larger groups travel greater distances in order to obtain sufficient food.[8] Human hunters and leopards can also influence the movement patterns.

Gorillas live in family groupings of one dominant male known as a silverback, five to seven adult females, children and adolescents, and possibly a few non-dominant males. Gorillas reproduce slowly because females do not begin reproducing until the age of nine or ten and usually only produce one baby approximately every five years.[9]

Diet[edit | edit source]

The main diet of the western lowland gorilla is vegetation, including roots and shoots. It will also eat fruit and tree bark. It may also eat insects from time to time. The adult will eat around Template:Convert/LoffAonDbSoffTemplate:Convert/test/Aon of food per day.[10]

Conservation[edit | edit source]

File:Western Lowland Gorilla at Bronx Zoo 4.jpg

Bronx Zoo

In the 1980s, a census of the gorilla populations in equatorial Africa was thought to be 100,000. Researchers later adjusted the figure to less than half because of poaching and diseases.[11] Surveys conducted by the Wildlife Conservation Society in 2006 and 2007 found about 125,000 previously unreported gorillas have been living in the swamp forests of Lake Télé Community Reserve and in neighboring Marantaceae (dryland) forests in the Republic of the Congo. However, gorillas remain vulnerable to Ebola, deforestation, and poaching.[11][12]

Zoos worldwide have a population of 550 western lowland gorillas and the Cincinnati Zoo leads the United States in western lowland gorilla births.[2]

Genetics[edit | edit source]

The genome of a western lowland gorilla was sequenced in 2012.[13]

HIV[edit | edit source]

Western lowland gorillas are believed to be one of the zoonotic origins of HIV/AIDS. The SIV or Simian immunodeficiency virus that infects them is similar to a certain strain of HIV-1.[14][15][16][17]

See also[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Template:IUCN2008
  2. 2.0 2.1 Prince-Hughes, Dawn (1987). Songs of the Gorilla Nation, Harmony.
  3. Schulman, F. Yvonne, Andrew Farb, Renu Virmani, Richard J. Montali (1 March 1995). Fibrosing Cardiomyopathy in Captive Western Lowland Gorillas (Gorilla gorilla gorilla) in the United States: A Retrospective Study. Journal of Zoo and Wildlife Medicine 26 (1): 43–51.
  4. 4.0 4.1 Western lowland gorilla. Philadelphia Zoo. URL accessed on 1 November 2011.
  5. Wood, Gerald (1983). The Guinness Book of Animal Facts and Feats.
  6. (2004). Home-range use and intergroup encounters in western gorillas (Gorilla g. gorilla) at Lossi forest, North Congo. American Journal of Primatology 64 (2): 223–232.
  7. (2004). Impact of ecological and social factors on ranging in western gorillas. American Journal of Primatology 64 (2): 207–222.
  8. (1997). Western lowland gorillas (Gorilla gorilla gorilla) as seasonal frugivores: Use of variable resources. American Journal of Primatology 43 (2): 87–109.
  9. "Planet Of No Apes? Experts Warn It's Close", CBS News, 12 September 2007. Retrieved 22 March 2008.
  10. DOI:10.1016/S0168-1591(98)00239-1 10.1016/S0168-1591(98)00239-1
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  11. 11.0 11.1 includeonly>"Motherlode of Gorillas Discovered in Central Africa", Wildlife Conservation Society, 5 August 2008. Retrieved on 26 February 2012.
  12. includeonly>"More than 100,000 rare gorillas found in Congo", CNN, 5 August 2008. Retrieved on 26 February 2012.
  13. Scally, Aylwyn (8 March 2012). Insights into hominid evolution from the gorilla genome sequence. Nature 483 (7388): 169–175.
  14. (2006). Human immunodeficiency viruses: SIV infection in wild gorillas. Nature 444 (7116).
  15. (2009). A new human immunodeficiency virus derived from gorillas. Nature Medicine 15 (8): 871–72.
  16. (2001). The origins of acquired immune deficiency syndrome viruses: where and when?. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 356: 867–76.
  17. (2008). Global Molecular Epidemiology of HIV: Understanding the Genesis of AIDS Pandemic 56: 1–25.

External links[edit | edit source]

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