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Zoo location: 
Scientific Name: 
Gorilla gorilla
Species class: 
Critically Endangered
Population Trend: 
Quick Facts

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

Fun Facts

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.

Distribution Map: 

Gorillas are the largest and most powerful of all primates. Gorillas are one of our closest living relatives, with a genetic makeup almost 98% similar to humans. 
There are three species of Gorilla: Western Lowland (20,000 + in the wild), Eastern Lowland (about 5000 in the wild) and the critically endangered Mountain Gorillas of Uganda/Rwanda (about 500 only in the wild).

Gorillas have been re-classified. We now say there are two species of Gorilla the Eastern and the Western Gorillas. The Western Gorillas includes the Western Lowland Gorillas (species held at Taronga) and the Cross River Gorillas. The Eastern Gorillas includes the Eastern Lowland Gorillas and the Mountain Gorillas.

At Taronga:

At Taronga Zoo we have 4 Western Lowland Gorillas. We have one Alpha Male named Kibali (D.O.B: 2002), and three females; Frala  (D.O.B: 1981)Mbeli  (D.O.B: 2004) and Johari (D.O.B: 2001)

Kibale is a young male who came to Taronga from France in 2012 to eventually assume the role of ‘silverback’ in Taronga’s new gorilla family. He was at an age where, in the wild, he would be separating from his family. 

Year assessed: