Life Span: 35 years in the wild, but up to 50 years in capitivty
Size: 1.2-1.8m tall
Weight: 68-181kgs (can be up to 230kgs)
Collective Noun: Troop
Social and Gentle: The gorilla is a gentle, social animal that lives in close family groups of five to 10 animals. These groups provide safety, protection and opportunities for young gorillas to learn.
Alphas: The group is led by a dominant male called a “silverback.” The Silverback has grey hair on its back which develops with sexual maturity at the age of 11. The Silverback is responsible for leading, protecting and defending the group.
Ranking: Maturing males are called “Blackbacks” and are often driven away from the group by the Silverback when they reach maturity. They then join bachelor groups or start their own families with low ranking females. Ranking is part of the gorilla family's hierarchy. If a low ranking female has an infant her rank may change as she now plays the important role of mother.
Adult females rear the young. The Silverback may have a favourite female among this group. Young females stay with the family until they reach breeding age. They then leave the group to form families with unrelated males.
Chest Beating: Soft chest beating is commonly used for family communication in the dense forest. More threatening chest beating and roaring is used by the Silverback to protect the group and his position. Young gorillas are often seen practising this behaviour.
They like their sleep: Gorillas sleep about 13 hours each night and rest for several hours during the middle of the day. Each gorilla builds two nests every day - one for the midday sleep and one for the night. A nest is never used twice. The nests are made by bending plants, leaves and branches into a springy platform, usually on the ground or in low trees.