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Western Lowland Gorilla

The Western lowland gorilla (Gorilla gorilla gorilla) is a subspecies of the Western gorilla (Gorilla gorilla). Gorillas have a complex system of communication; they use body postures, facial expressions, chest beating, kicking and vocalizations to communicate with each other.

Size: Males may reach a height of six feet; Females may get as large as four feet. Males can weigh up to 600 pounds and females weigh up to 250 pounds.

Life Span: Gorillas can live to be over 40 years of age.

Color: Black or grayish-black with a reddish crown

Continent: Africa

Range: The western lowland gorilla lives in the lowland tropical forests in Cameroon, the Central African Republic, the Republic of Congo, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Angola, and Nigeria.

Habitat: Gorillas live in rain forests up to 10,000 feet in Africa

Food: Entirely vegetarian -- mainly fruit, leaves, juicy stems and soils.

Reproduction: Males reach sexual maturity at seven to eight years of age, females at six to seven years. In the wild, males and females raised together, emigrate to join other troops. Gorillas in captivity raised together interact as siblings, therefore, breeding, although not impossible, is less likely to occur between familiar animals. Gorillas have a 24 to 28-day estrous cycle. Duration of a pregnancy ranges from 245 to 270 days, after which a female gives birth to usually a single gorilla. After birth, youngsters suckle for 36 months, but they will stay under the mother's watchful eye for about four years.

Fun Fact: Adult gorillas have 32 teeth, the same as man. The western lowland gorilla is the largest living primate. Gorillas, especially males, have a strong body odor. The intensity of their smell varies with their mood and is part of their complex social behaviors. They have excellent color vision and sense of smell. Gorillas are social animals that live in groups (known as troops) of one dominant male, several females and their young. Group size varies, but it can be as low as two gorillas or even as high as 30. In the wild, each gorilla group has a territory that ranges over 10 to 15 square miles. Groups may inhabit the same area. When the troops cross territories, the males display. When the leader of a group dies, younger males compete for that position. The gorillas are active in the daytime, waking between 6 a.m. and 8 a.m. After their initial early morning feeding, gorillas have a period of rest for several hours before traveling and feeding begins again.

Conservation: Gorillas are endangered. Man is the main predator of the gorilla. Poaching for bushmeat is dwindling the numbers left in the wild. As all of the African rainforest is harvested for lumber, humans encroach on the gorillas.