The gorilla is a primate. It is also the biggest ape. Male gorillas can grow to be more than 390 pounds! A gorilla usually walks on all fours. It uses its feet and hands and when it stands up it can be six feet tall! A gorilla is mostly black or brown with a shiny face. It has large teeth and a thick bone above its eyes. One of the distinct parts of a male gorilla is the hairy crest on its head.
When a gorilla is excited or sees a trespasser, it hits its hands to its chest to make a loud sound. Even though it may not look like it, gorillas are calm, shy creatures that only attack when threatened. Gorillas may seem quiet, but they can actually make many different sounds.
Also, the gorilla is an herbivore which means that it eats plants and not meat like some other animals.
Besides in zoos, gorillas are found in Africa. There are three different kinds of gorillas, including the western lowland gorilla, the eastern lowland gorilla, and the mountain gorilla. The western lowland gorillas are found on the Atlantic Ocean border of Africa around Gabon, Cameroon, Nigeria, and the Republic of Congo. The eastern gorilla species can be found in the southeastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo. The mountain gorilla are found around the Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda, and Uganda. Even though some gorillas don’t live in rainforests, most of them live in rainforests around the equator in these areas.
Gorillas are amazing, so it is sad that they are becoming endangered. I’ll bet you probably don’t know why they are dying out. Many hunters have illegally shot and killed gorillas in Africa to sell parts of them like their skins. Gorillas are also hunted for their meat. Another reason is habitat destruction. Because of the development of land for farms, buildings, etc., forests are being cut down and the land the gorillas once roamed is being developed and destroyed! Another thing is that gorillas have adapted to the areas they live in, so they can’t really live anywhere else. Now that the climate where they live is changing, gorilla populations are dropping.
Also, there have been many civil wars in Central and East Africa which have hurt the gorillas. They are also threatened by dangerous diseases like Ebola.
Ebola is a deadly virus that infects humans and monkeys. Many of the western lowland gorillas have died from Ebola. According to the World Wildlife Federation, there has been a 56% drop in their population.
There is good news for the mountain gorillas. Because of conservation efforts, their population is showing a slow increase.
There are some easy things we can do to save gorillas from extinction. Since gorillas are being poached, all people have to do is enforce poaching laws around their habitats. Also, some people need to know that gorillas are dying and if they are poaching the gorillas it is partly because of them that this amazing species is becoming more and more endangered. Another thing we can do as humans is to stop cutting down the gorillas' habitat for construction of buildings and build somewhere else.
You and your friends could also sponsor a fundraising event to raise money to protect the gorillas. There are many organizations around the world that work to save the three types of gorillas.
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Fleisher, Paul. Gorillas. New York, NY Benchmark Books 2001
Stewart, Kelly J. Gorillas, Natural History & Conservation. Stillwater, MN: Voyageur Press, Inc. 2003.
"Gorillas." World Wildlife Federation. 15 March 2007 <http://www.worldwildlife.org/gorillas/>.
Permission to use photographs of a map of where gorillas live, a gorilla using tools, a male silverback gorilla, and a large male gorilla on this page is granted under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License from Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Main_Page> (March, 2007).
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