One of the most common questions we get asked after our Keeper Talk is: “Is that gorilla pregnant?”. The majority of the time the answer is no, “but why do their bellies look so big?”.
The answer all stems back to what they eat. Gorillas are the largest of the primate species and are known as the vegetarians of the rainforest. They need to consume large amounts of food to survive. At Taronga we feed our gorillas four times a day on a balanced diet of fresh leafy vegetables such as lettuce, celery, endive and chicory plus other veggies including carrots, cucumbers and capsicums. We also give the troop branches which is a good source of fibre and the new leaves are also rich in protein. They receive a huge variety of foliage, from fig, hibiscus and even olive branches. In the wild they can eat over 200 different plant species.
But why are their bellies so big?
It’s because they eat large amounts of leafy green vegetables or bulky vegetation, which contain a lot of fibre, easily eating 20-30 kilos per day.
When a gorilla sits down their belly sticks out and they just eat what is around them giving the impression that they are overweight. Within that large pot belly there is a large stomach with lots of fluids to help break down and digest the food that has been consumed.
Although the gorilla’s belly gives that impression of being fat, gorillas are very strong and muscular animal.
So next time you are at the Zoo stop by at the Gorilla Forest at 11.30am or 1.30pm to see their scatter feed.