Largest of the four great apes, the gorilla is a shy, gentle, peaceful animal.

Daily Life

Most of the gorilla's day is devoted to eating and an adult can quite easily consume about 30kg of vegetation every day. Scientists studying the gorilla in the wild have listed more than 200 different food plants eaten, although the family groups may travel no more than two or three miles in a day. Most of the plants eaten form the forest's undergrowth - very little of the food comes from the trees themselves.

A gorilla rarely drinks since it gets most of the water it needs from its diet, together with morning dew on the leaves. When it does drink, a gorilla soaks the fur on the back of its hand and sucks the water from it.

Another important part of the gorilla's day is social grooming. One gorilla 'presents' itself to a companion which uses its fingers and teeth to comb through the other gorilla's hair. This grooming can relax a gorilla so much that it appears to go into a trance!

Every evening, a gorilla builds itself a nest for sleeping. A young gorilla shares its mother's nest up to about the age of three but it may practise building its own nest from an early age. Nest-building doesn't take long; the gorilla just sits on a main branch and bends in smaller branches to form a small platform. Large males usually make a nest on the ground.

A Frightening Display! When disturbed in some way, gorillas of both sexes and all ages over a year, beat their chests. This seems to help them to relieve tension, but in the adult male it is part of a much more elaborate display. If a strange male appears in a group, the resident male will start to hoot, becoming louder as he grows more excited. He then stands to his full height, beating his chest with the palms of his hands, and maybe moving towards the stranger, growling and gnashing his teeth. If this does not frighten the stranger away then he will charge, screaming with rage and tossing vegetation into the air. The charge is usually a bluff, and the 'silverback' does not physically attack the intruder, but stops right in front of him glowering until one of them turns away - usually the stranger.

Read More: Breeding

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