More About the Mountain Gorillas
Mountain Gorillas are family creatures and live in groups from five to thirty-five members.
A silverback, the dominant polygamous male in the group, is the leader. The groups include
the silverback, several females and offspring. Females are reproductively mature at about
7 to 8 years, but do not normally breed until 10-11 years. Females will leave their birth
group before breeding and join another group. Males normally do not start breeding until
15-20 years. Gorillas do not have a specific breeding season and females normally give
birth to only one offspring at a time.
Over a 40-year life span a female will normally bear 2-6 offspring. The females are nurturing
mothers, who feed and groom their babies. Gorillas do not mind sharing activities, so it is
not uncommon to see a silverback playing with the young or grooming them. All young gorillas
are incredibly active and often pester the adults. Infants are normally weaned at about the
age of three years.
Mountain Gorillas are principally vegetarians, but occasionally eat small invertebrates. Naturally,
mountain gorillas require large quantities of food due to their massive size. Surprisingly, they
do not need water because they obtain enough from the plants they eat. Over 3/4 of the mountain
gorillas diet is shoots, stems, and leaves. Gorillas spend about a third of their day feeding, a
third traveling, and the remainder resting. They make nests to sleep and rest in trees, on steep
slopes, or on the ground.
Gorillas are usually very gentle creatures. Their only effective predators are humans. They are
often thought to be "slow" or "dumb" because of their sluggishness, but in fact they are intelligent
and capable of learning sign language. Gorillas are peaceful creatures and will only attack to
defend their group.