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.
Leader of the pack
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.
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.
Beating like a drum
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.
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.
Come and meet us
You can meet our Gorillas at Taronga Zoo Sydney.