Twycross Zoo Gorilla

Western Lowland Gorilla

Western lowland gorillas are the smallest of the four gorilla subspecies, which also include the Cross River gorillas, Eastern Lowland gorillas, and Mountain gorillas. Western lowland gorillas have shorter black-brown hair, longer arms, and a more prominent ridge along their brow. Like their cousins, western lowland gorillas are endangered and face threats from habitat loss, the bush meat, pet trade and infectious diseases.

Gorillas can climb trees, but they’re usually found on the ground in communities—known as troops—of up to 30 individuals. Troops are led by one dominant, older adult male, often called a silverback because of the swath of silver hair that adorns his otherwise dark fur.

Troops also include several other young males, some females, and their offspring. The leader organises troop activities, such as eating, nesting in leaves, and moving about the group’s home range. Though gorillas can stand upright, they prefer traveling on all fours, pushing themselves forward with their knuckles and soles of their feet.

Size and weight

The Western Lowland Gorilla is the smallest of all gorilla subspecies.

Height: Up to 1.8 meters in height

Weight: 140-270kg

Life expectancy

Life expectancy: 35 to 40 years in the wild and up to 60 years in captivity

Habitat: Montane, primary and secondary forest and lowland swampland.

Location: Central and Western Africa in Angola, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Republic of the Congo, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Equatorial Guinea and Gabon.

Young gorilla eating outside - July 2020

Key Facts

  • Though they’re normally quiet animals, western lowland gorillas have an extensive array of vocalisations—at least 22 different hoots, barks, and screams, each with its own meaning.
  • In captivity, gorillas have displayed significant intelligence and have even learned simple human sign language.
  • Female gorillas give birth to one infant after a pregnancy of nearly nine months. Unlike their powerful parents, newborns are tiny—weighing about four pounds—and can be found clinging to their mothers’ fur.
  • Young gorillas, from three to six years old, spend much of their day at play, climbing trees, chasing one another, and swinging from branches.
Twycross Zoo Sumatran Tiger Stretching


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