Wild Fact #190 – World’s Largest Primate – Eastern Gorilla

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Did You Know?

  • The Eastern Gorilla is one of two species (the other is the Western Gorilla)
  • There are two sub-species of Eastern Gorilla – the Mountain Gorilla and Eastern Lowland Gorilla
  • This species is the largest living primate on the planet
  • Unfortunately, the Eastern Gorilla is an endangered species with a dwindling population

The Largest Primate in the World

As mentioned, the Eastern Gorilla is the largest remaining primate in the world. How big are they? Believe it or not, they can reach an average height of 1.8 m (6 feet) and weigh over 227 kg (500 pounds), which is pretty incredible when you compare that to their human relatives. The fact that most of this weight is a result of muscle (and not fat) makes this animal both impressive and powerfully dangerous. This strength usually means that the Eastern Gorilla doesn’t have too many natural predators, however, the odd crocodile or leopard has been known to take down this massive animal.

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Eastern Gorilla

The Most Dangerous Predator

One predator that regularly takes down the Eastern Gorilla is none other than humans. As a result of poaching and habitat destruction, this species is considered endangered and their population continues to drop. At this point in time, Biologist estimate there to be approximately 5000 Eastern Lowland Gorilla’s and 700 Mountain Gorilla’s left in the wild. If people continue to replace their natural jungle habitat with agricultural land this species of Gorilla will soon be on the brink of extinction. Interestingly enough, there are very few zoos in the world that house the Eastern Gorilla (and none that keep the Mountain Gorilla sub-species) so once the wild population is gone…the Eastern Gorilla will cease to exist.

Proud Parents

When this Gorilla is not being hunted down, they can be found hanging out in their family groups, which can be as large as 35 individuals. Typically, this group is lead by a single, dominant male, known as the Silverback. Although the family size of the Eastern Gorilla is larger than their Western cousins, the females only give birth to new offspring every 3 to 4 years as a result of the incredibly long parenting cycle. Generally, it takes about 3 and a half years before the babies are fully weaned from their mothers, so it doesn’t leave much time to have another baby.

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