Gorilla Definition | Characteristics & Facts



Gorilla Definition

A gorilla is a large and powerful primate belonging to the family Hominidae and the genus Gorilla. They are native to the forests of central and eastern Africa. Gorillas are the largest living primates and share about 98% of their DNA with humans, making them one of our closest relatives.

Gorilla General Characteristics & Facts

Size and Weight

Adult male gorillas are much larger than females. On average, adult male gorillas stand about 5.6 feet (1.7 meters) tall when upright and can weigh up to 440-660 pounds (200-300 kilograms).

Physical Appearance

Gorillas have a robust and muscular body covered in coarse, black to brownish-black hair. They have a prominent brow ridge, a sagittal crest on their skull, and large canines. The males also possess a patch of silver hair on their back, giving them the name “silverback.”


Gorillas are found in forests and mountainous regions of central and eastern Africa. They inhabit lowland rainforests, montane forests, and bamboo forests.

Social Structure

Gorillas are highly social animals and live in groups called troops or bands. A typical troop consists of a dominant silverback male, several females, and their offspring. The silverback leads and protects the group.


Gorillas are primarily herbivorous, with their diet consisting mainly of leaves, stems, fruits, and bamboo shoots. They have a specialized digestive system to process the fibrous vegetation.


Gorillas are generally peaceful and non-aggressive animals, but they can display territorial behavior and aggression toward outsiders.


Gorillas are considered highly intelligent animals. They possess problem-solving abilities, use tools in the wild, and can learn sign language and other forms of communication in captivity.

Endangered Status

Gorillas are listed as endangered species due to habitat loss, poaching, and diseases. Conservation efforts are focused on protecting their habitats, preventing illegal hunting, and promoting sustainable tourism.


Female gorillas reach sexual maturity around the age of 8-10 years, while males mature around 10-12 years. The gestation period is approximately 8.5 months, and usually, a single offspring is born. Gorillas have a slow reproductive rate, with interbirth intervals of around 4-6 years.


Gorillas have a relatively long lifespan. In the wild, they can live for about 35-40 years, while in captivity, they have been known to reach ages of 50 years or more.

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Physical Characteristics of Gorilla

Gorillas have several distinctive physical characteristics. Here are the key physical features of gorillas:

  1. Size: Gorillas are the largest living primates. Adult males, known as silverbacks, are much larger than females. They can weigh between 300 to 450 pounds (136 to 204 kilograms) and stand around 5.6 to 5.9 feet (1.7 to 1.8 meters) tall when upright. Females are smaller, weighing around 200 to 300 pounds (91 to 136 kilograms) and standing about 4 to 5 feet (1.2 to 1.5 meters) tall.
  2. Body Structure: Gorillas have a robust and muscular build. They have a stocky body with broad chests and broad shoulders, providing strength and power for their arboreal and terrestrial activities. Gorillas have long arms, which are longer than their legs, and their hands can touch the ground when they walk on all fours.
  3. Hair: Gorillas have a dense covering of hair that varies in color and length depending on the species and age. Western gorillas have coarse, brownish-black or dark gray hair, while eastern gorillas have longer, softer black hair. Older male gorillas develop silver-gray hair on their back and hips, which gives them the name “silverbacks.”
  4. Head and Face: Gorillas have a large and elongated head. Their faces are hairless, revealing their dark skin. The head is characterized by a prominent sagittal crest, a bony ridge on top of the skull, which is more pronounced in males. Gorillas also have a distinctive large, protruding brow ridge.
  5. Hands and Feet: Gorillas have large, strong hands and feet adapted for gripping and climbing. Their hands have opposable thumbs, enabling them to grasp and manipulate objects. Gorillas have broad, flat feet with ridges on the soles for increased traction when walking or climbing.
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Scientific Classification of Gorilla

Kingdom: Animalia

Phylum: Chordata

Class: Mammalia

Order: Primates

Family: Hominidae

Genus: Gorilla

Key Locations of Gorilla

  • Central Africa:
  • Democratic Republic of the Congo (Eastern and Western Gorillas)
  • Republic of the Congo (Western Gorillas)
  • Cameroon (Western Gorillas)
  • Central African Republic (Western Gorillas)
  • Eastern Africa:
  • Uganda (Mountain Gorillas)
  • Rwanda (Mountain Gorillas)
  • Democratic Republic of the Congo (Mountain and Eastern Lowland Gorillas)

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Gorilla FAQs

What does Gorilla Eat?

  1. Vegetation
  2. Fruits
  3. Stems, Shoots, and Bars
  4. Flowers
  5. Insects
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