1. An average band of western lowland gorillas consists of six or seven animals:
one dominant silverback, several adult females, and offspring of various ages, from
infants to maturing blackbacks.
2. The dominant silverback offers protection to the females and their offspring from
both predators and unknown males (Tutin and Fernandez, 1991).
3. Sexually mature females leave their family group to join lone males or other small
mixed groups. Therefore, the females in a band are normally unrelated.
4. A maturing male leaves its family group (sometimes driven off by the dominant
silverback) to establish its own band, to roam alone, or to join a bachelor group. These
wandering males follow other bands in order to entice females to join them.
1. Despite their reputation, gorillas are passive, shy animals. They may put on a noisy
charge display to scare off intruders and/or allow time for the band to disappear into the
2. Chest-beating displays against outlying silverbacks can be
intense but rarely develop into a confrontation. If a fight does begin between
silverbacks, females and/or offspring are at risk, and infants are often mortally injured.
3. There are nine steps in the highly ritualized charge display from hooting to
chest-beating to running and tearing plants to slapping the ground.
Mutual grooming is not as common among gorillas as in other primates. It is often
practiced between a mother and her offspring. Occasionally a female will groom the
silverback but he seldom reciprocates. Grooming helps keep the hair free from dirt and parasites and also
reinforces social bonds.
1. Gorillas are diurnal (active during the day). They spend the day feeding
(30%), resting (40%), and traveling (30%).
2. When the dominant silverback decides to settle in for the evening, each gorilla builds a new nest for the night. They bend and weave leaves and branches into a circular bowl about 1-1.5 m (3-3.5 ft.) in diameter. Nest counting is a reliable method for estimating populations densities since only mothers and infants share a nest.
Scientific Classification|Habitat and Distribution|Physical Characteristics and Special Adaptations|Senses|Behavior|Diet and Eating Habits|Reproduction|Birth and Care of Young|Communication|Longevity|Conservation Issues|Bibliography|Specific Index
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