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15 Amazing Fun Gorilla Facts

You may you think you know everything about these fabulous giant primates - but do you know everything on this list of fun facts?

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Beano Team
Last Updated:  January 31st 2023

Gorillas! You probably know a thing or two about them already, like the fact they mostly live in the tropical forests of central Africa. You might have seen some in the zoo, and hopefully you know why they're so impressive - they're big, muscular, and a lot closer to humans than you might think! Find out everything about gorillas right here - do you know what they eat, how they walk, or how aggressive they really are? You'll find out with these fifteen fun facts! And when you're done we've got LOADS more animal facts for you - learn all about quokkas, meerkats and honey badgers with more fabulous fact lists!

1. They live together in big groups

Gorillas are very social animals, and that means they live in big groups! These can be very small but can also contain up to 30 gorillas! A dominant male is in charge of the group, which is known as a "troop"!

2. There are two types of gorilla

There are two species of gorilla: the Eastern and the Western. These are split into four subspecies - the Mountain and Eastern Lowland (Eastern), and the Cross River and Western Lowland (Western). There are a few differences between the subspecies, but Eastern gorillas tend to be a darker black while Western ones are more greyish-brown.

3. They're apes (not monkeys)

Gorillas are primates, which is an order of mammals that also includes monkeys, apes, lemurs - and humans! Gorillas are the largest type of primate in the world, and despite the terms monkey and ape sometimes being used to mean the same thing, they are not monkeys. There are a lot of differences between monkeys and apes, but one obvious one is that monkeys have tails while apes don't.

4. They're closer to us than you might think!

We're all primates, and the closest primate species to humans are chimpanzees and bonobos. Gorillas come right after that, though - think of them as your cousins! We share an amazing 98.3% of our DNA with gorillas!

5. They're vegetarians

...mostly! While gorillas eat plants and fruit (and a LOT of them - sometimes up to 30kg a day), they sometimes branch out and eat snails and insects too. Western Lowland gorillas have been known to open termite mounds to eat the insects inside. Bon appetit!

6. They're very large

Adult male gorillas can reach six foot tall standing on two legs, and weigh up to 200kg!

7. They're very smart

Gorillas have been observed making and using tools in the wild, which is a sign of high intelligence in animals. They also may have the ability to learn sign language - one female captive gorilla, Koko, was said to understand about 2,000 words in English and could sign about 1,000 words by age 40.

8. They're very emotional

On top of being clever, gorillas can also express a lot of emotions. Koko could apparently sign to show that she was happy or sad, but gorillas can also laugh!

9. They're speedy

Despite being large creatures, gorillas can move VERY quickly when they want to. Gorillas can easily outrun humans with an average groundspeed of 20mph, and speeds of up to 25mph recorded!

10. Their arms are longer than their legs

This means they walk on all fours! They mostly balance their weight on their knuckles, and the process is called "knuckle walking". They can walk on two legs but only for very short distances - about ten feet at a time!

11. They're very strong

Gorillas are heavy but not that tall, all things considered. All that extra weight comes mostly from muscles - and a gorilla is on average SIX TIMES as strong as a human! Most of the strength is in their upper bodies, which are strong from hauling around their massive weight.

12. They live a long time

Gorillas live about 35-40 years in the wild. In captivity they live even longer - the oldest one recorded was a female gorilla in a zoo in Ohio. She lived for a whopping 60 years!

13. They're usually peaceful

Yep, despite being so strong, gorillas are not very aggressive animals! Male gorillas will sometimes challenge each other, usually younger males going for older dominant males. They'll beat their chests and roar at each other, and even attack each other with sticks - but usually one will back down, rather than a full-blown fight breaking out. When it comes to people, gorillas are also usually gentle giants - but like all animals, gorillas will try to defend their habitat and families, and that can mean getting aggressive with humans who disrupt them. If you ever find yourself with gorillas (hey, you never know!), back away from them if they beat their chests or act aggressive, and don't make eye contact or bare your teeth (those are signs of aggression in primates)!

14. They don't drink a lot of water

All animals need to drink water to survive, but gorillas need less than you'd think! They don't need to live near sources of fresh water, but usually get enough moisture from the fruit and vegetation they eat and from sipping morning dew!

15. They are critically endangered

Unfortunately gorillas face a number of threats in the wild. A big one is habitat destruction from climate change as well as logging, mining and agriculture. Like a lot of animals gorillas are also hunted for meat and body parts as well as for the illegal wildlife trade. Another big one is disease - due to similar genetics, gorillas can catch the same diseases as humans. Cross River Gorillas are the most endangered, with maybe under 300 remaining in the wild. Wildlife charities are working hard to save them - maybe see what you can do to help!