Gorillas are the largest humanoid monkeys and apes in general.
Along with chimpanzees and orangutans, they are the closest to humans. The gorilla genus includes two species, the eastern and western gorillas, which are very similar to each other.
The appearance of these animals inspires respect and even fear. Indeed, the height of gorillas can reach 1.8 m, and even more weight up to 140-200 kg! In comparison with a man of the same height, the gorilla looks much more impressive. The body of these animals is more square than elongated, the limbs are long and muscular at the same time, palms and feet wide. As a rule, the stomach of all gorillas is large because of the large number of gases in their intestines, the back is wide, sometimes a little saggy. The jaws of these monkeys are powerful and strongly protrude forward. Gorillas have wide nostrils and close planted eyes. The color of the skin and wool of these animals is black, the cubs may have a brownish shade of wool. In old male gorillas, the hair on the back gets a grayish hue, this color indicates the sexual maturity of the animal. Also, males have a more powerful nape, emphasized by the protruding wool on the top. However, these are the only signs that distinguish males from females – the sexual dimorphism of this type of monkey is not very pronounced. The hair of gorillas is long and thick. At first glance, this fur interferes with the animals in a warm climate, but in fact, in the gorilla habitat, the temperature at night can drop to +16 ° C and fur help them warm up.
Both gorilla species are found exclusively in West and Central Africa. They are inhabited by humid equatorial forests on the plains and slopes of the mountains. Gorillas live in groups of 7-15 individuals. Each family consists of one adult male and several females with calves and adolescents. Gorillas are sedentary animals, each family occupies a vast area, which is bypassed at intervals of several weeks. Like all monkeys, gorillas are active during the day, at night they sleep in the nests of branches, which are not reused.
Most of the time the animals spend in search of food, methodically bypassing the area in search of thickets of favorite plants. Moving gorillas on four limbs, using a permanent trail. When walking, they lean on the ground on the backside of the half-bent palm. This way of movement is characteristic of all great apes.
Despite the impressive appearance of the gorillas have a very calm character. Usually, animals phlegmatically chew food, watching the other members of the herd by the edge of the eye. The cubs behave more lively, play a lot, but their games are not loud. The male authority in the family is unwavering, so if there are any misunderstandings in the herd, then more often between females. Having quarreled, they raise a squeal and even bite each other. But the leader does not tolerate such squabbles for a long time, he gives his shrewd wives a couple of knockouts, and order reigns in the herd.
Real fights arise between males only if the young pretend to be the family of the old one, but even in this case, they prefer to limit themselves to demonstrating the threat rather than using it. The fact that gorillas have great muscle power and can inflict heavy injury to each other during the battle, so the males organize “image” competitions. At the same time, they rise on their hind legs, beat themselves in the chest with their fists, and shout.
Gorillas are absolute vegetarians, they eat only plants, giving preference to leaves and stems. Fruits make up a smaller proportion of their diet. Because of such a low-calorie diet, these animals have to spend 40-60% of the daytime feeding. These monkeys rarely drink, as they get the necessary moisture with food. Like orangutans, gorillas do not like water and try to take shelter during the rain under the thick trees’ crowns.
Gorillas breed all year round. Females mate only with the leader of the herd, the other males to continue the genus must first win the leadership. Pregnancy lasts 8.5 months.
First, the calf holds on to the mother’s wool, and she presses it to her chest, the grown-up baby moves on her back and the female carries it everywhere.
Adult calves move on their own, but they accompany the mother (up to 5 years) for a long time. Even after the young are completely separated, it passes through adolescence and finally, the gorillas become adults only by the age of 10-12 years. Gorillas live in nature for 30-35 years, in captivity life expectancy can reach 50-55 years.
These monkeys have no enemies in their natural environment: their large size, strength and collective support make them invulnerable to other animals. In their turn, gorillas do not show aggression to their neighbors: they graze together with ungulates on forest meadows, do not pay attention to smaller monkeys. Their only enemy is a man, or rather, some poachers. The locals initially did not hunt gorillas, but as the civilized world learned about gorillas, they became valuable exhibits in zoological collections. In this regard, a kind of craft emerged: adult gorillas are killed to cut off their paws, which is a kind of fashionable souvenir of the rich. The surviving cubs are resold to private zoos. A separate problem is human infections, which affect the gorillas. Previously, among the local’s such diseases as influenza, for example, were unknown, now tourists are carriers of viruses. Gorillas that are not immune to influenza are very hard to carry in the wild and often die. To top it off, these animals suffer from a constant reduction in their habitats. Continued deforestation and civil wars in the gorilla region have put them in a critical position.
In captivity, these animals are well tamed if they are brought up by humans from childhood. But the treatment of gorillas requires an understanding of their psychology – they are not circus artists and are not designed to learn tricks. With a calm and respectful attitude gorillas can easily find mutual understanding with humans. The western plain gorilla called Coco was the first animal to master human speech. It is true that due to the peculiarities of the structure of the vocal apparatus, the monkey can not reproduce human sounds, but words replace gestures. During 40 years of her life, Koko has learned about 2000 English words by hearing and mastered about 1000 gestures in the language of the deaf-mute. With these words, she not only informs the caretakers of her immediate needs, but also expresses abstract concepts, complex feelings, and even jokes.