The western lowland gorilla is one of two subspecies of western gorilla found in the jungles on the African continent. The western lowland gorilla is the most numerous species of western gorilla but is still considered to be critically endangered in the wild. The western lowland gorilla is found inhabiting the tropical jungles and forests of western and central Africa, along with lowland swamps and secondary forests. The western lowland gorilla is found throughout Angola, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Congo, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Equatorial Guinea and Gabon and is also the most likely gorilla to be seen in the world’s zoos.
The two western gorilla species are distinguished by their differing skull and tooth sizes, and the cross river gorilla is also much rarer than the western lowland gorilla with only a handful thought to be left in the wild. The western lowland gorilla is one of the great apes, a group that includes orangutans, gorillas, humans and chimpanzees. As with the other great apes, the western lowland gorilla has a number of features which makes living in the jungle a bit easier, including having opposable thumbs which come in handy when the western lowland gorilla is peeling fruit.
The western lowland gorilla is an omnivorous animal, but the majority of its diet is made up of eating fruit which the western lowland gorilla is known to travel long distances through the forests to find. The western lowland gorilla also eats leaves, nuts and berries, along with insects and occasionally small animals such as lizards and rodents. The western lowland gorilla has also been observed using basic tools in the wild in order to more effectively gather food.
The Western Lowland Gorilla is the largest of all primates. Western Lowland Gorillas have broad shoulders, a muscular neck and strong hands and feet. Their considerable size gives them a good defense against predators and they live in relative safety on the ground, more so than any other primate. The Western Lowland Gorillas body is covered by short, thin grey-black or brown-black hair.
A mature male Western Lowland Gorilla has silver fur on its back. These adult gorillas are called ‘Silverbacks’. Western Lowland Gorillas can walk for short distances on two legs however, they generally get around by walking on all fours. When doing this, they walk on their knuckles which is known as ‘knuckle-walking’.
Western Lowland Gorillas are omnivores, however, they are sometimes classed as herbivores because they mostly eat plants. They survive primarily on fruit, leaves and foliage. Western Lowland Gorillas sometimes do eat insects such as termites and ants to supplement their diets. Western Lowland Gorillas do not drink water as they get adequate moisture from the foilage they consume.
More so, Western Lowland Gorillas eat fruits during the wet season and more herbs and bark in the dry season. They seem to prefer sugary fruits and pith, as well as protein-rich leaves and bark. Like other apes, gorillas feed on seasonal fruits and disperse seeds in their dung as they travel from place to place.
The male gorillas range further in the wet season in search of fruit and spend more time on the ground eating herbs in the dry season. Female gorillas feed higher in the trees and eat more leaves than males. These Gorillas in the Zoo eat vegetables, fruits, leaf eater biscuits, browse (cut branches from a variety of trees, herbaceous plants, alfalfa, ferns, clover), non-fat milk and yogurt and a vitamin and mineral supplement. Gorillas in captivity tend to eat less bulk food than those in the wild. Adult male gorillas eat about 60 – 70 pounds of food per day. Adult female gorillas eat about two thirds of that amount. Western Lowland Gorillas live 30 to 40 years in the wild, 40 to 60 years in captivity.