In celebration of World Gorilla Day

24 September 2023

In celebration of World Gorilla Day, which takes place on 24 September, Animals' Voice celebrates one of humans' nearest relatives.

Residing in the vast African rainforests, two species of gorilla, the Eastern and Western, each live within one side of the forest. There are two subspecies of each, the lowland and mountain, meaning there are four overall types of gorillas.

Alongside bonobos and chimpanzees, gorillas share up to 98% of our DNA, meaning they share much of our genetics. One of their similar traits to human fingerprints is that their nose prints are unique, and the shape of their nose is individual to each gorilla. Gorillas are the largest primate species, and an adult male is thought to have around ten times the strength of a human male.

They are knowledgeable and will often showcase intelligence and emotions that are similar to ours, including laughter and sadness. The average lifespan of a gorilla in the wild is around 40 years old, and scientists have recorded them using various tools in the wild, creatively using their intelligence, such as twigs to pick up insects.

Each adult is known to be able to eat up to around 10% of their body weight each day.

Gorillas are incredibly social animals, and they live together in a group, also known as a troop. The size of each troop can be up to ten; however, this number can vary, and they can be up to thirty. The group comprises a dominant male, multiple females, and their young.

The dominant male in a group is a silverback and tends to be the only adult male in the group, apart from his juvenile young. These are the troop's largest, and each is recognised by a small patch of grey fur on their back. Though they tend to eat primarily vegetarian food, they also enjoy insects and bugs.

Western lowland gorillas were labelled critically endangered in 2018; however, conservation work has improved.

Despite being closely related to humans, the main threat to their population numbers is, sadly, humans. They face risks from habitat destruction, including deforestation, poaching and hunting, and human conflict, which encroaches on their habitat.