Hello, my wonderfully attentive, curious little readers! I hope you're all doing well and enjoying the arrival of the spring together with your loved ones. I’ve been looking forward to our story time with a different animal each time, how are you enjoying it so far? Please feel free to write me a comment below so I know what things you have enjoyed the most. And most importantly, please let me know if you are curious to hear about a particular animal, so I can make it my priority for the next stories I tell.
In the previous stories we’ve spoken about indoor pets, outdoor pets and some wild animals. Some have been very scary and spooky while others are cute and cuddly. Today’s animal has very physical similarities to humans and some scientists believe that humans are the more advanced versions of this animal. I wonder if you will find it cute and cuddly or scary!
This animal is usually dark, covered with hair and has hands and feet like you. They are highly intelligent and when they are in places like zoos, they can be taught to use sign language to communicate with humans. They are very calm and not aggressive unless threatened and they are quite big animals.
The animal is a gorilla. Have you ever seen a gorilla and do you think it has similarities to humans? Or do you think they have similarities to us bears?
The most peculiar thing about gorillas is how they walk. They have longer arms than legs and have toes and fingers like us. How they walk is described as ‘the knuckle walk’. They use the knuckles on their hands as support when they move in the wild. Their arms are used as legs and are usually on the ground, they walk on all four limbs.
Gorillas can be found mostly in Western, Eastern and Sub Saharan Africa in swamps, forests, lowlands and mountain ax.
Gorillas are an animal that take their veggies very seriously. They are herbivores meaning they eat plants, leaves, stems, fruits and bamboos. Can you guess which other animals (that look like a gorilla) love fruits too; specifically bananas? Yes, monkeys! Monkeys are smaller than gorillas but belong to the same family and share similar physical looks to gorillas. Humans, chimpanzees, apes, orangutans, monkeys, baboons, lemurs among others are all known as primates. We all belong to the same biological order.
Gorillas grow to about 51/2 inches tall and can weigh about 400 pounds or more, so they probably weigh around 6 to 8 times more than you. The males are usually bigger than the females.
Gorillas are actually the biggest primate species. They eat about 50 pounds of food a day in the jungle and can fend for themselves by climbing trees to pluck leaves or fruits. Gorillas are very strong and love to eat stem pith of certain trees. A gorilla could rip apart a banana tree to enjoy the stem pith of a tree.
Gorillas aren’t aggressive, but at the same time are not pets. They are wild animals and so if you saw them out of the zoo, you shouldn’t get close.
Gorillas can also be particularly aggressive if they have their young with them. Their young are called ‘infants’, just like young humans. Female gorillas are also pregnant with young gorillas for 9 months and keep their young gorillas on their back, until they can walk and fend for themselves. At age 7-10 a gorilla will leave its mother's troop to find its own mate. In human years, that is far too young to leave your parents to begin life yourself!
Gorillas share another similarity to humans, they move in groups and these are usually known as ‘troops’. Troops of gorillas can be up to 50 members or just two. There is usually a leader called a silverback which may be identified by a grey strip on his back. Silverbacks lead the troop and give directions. It is usually also the father of most young in a troop. Silverbacks have designated things the troop will do each day.
How do you think gorillas spend their day in the jungle or mountains? They feed and go foraging for food by following their leader, they nap after eating, play with other gorillas and groom each other. You may have seen one gorilla use it’s fingers and teeth on another gorilla, this is how they bond and groom each other.
When gorillas feel threatened they beat their chest. It is done by hitting one hand after the other on their chest usually before they charge at whatever threatens them. Sometimes you can find a gorilla beating its chest to attract a female gorilla or to show off that it is very strong.
A particular type of gorilla, the silverback, may feel challenged if you keep eye contact with it. The rest of the troop will follow the silverbacks command. It is best to retreat slowly if you were to ever come in contact with a gorilla that isn’t in a zoo.
Gorillas in zoos are trained, they are easily taught and can pick up on lessons very quickly. Some gorillas in zoos can use their fingers to communicate with you in sign language. Wouldn’t that be exciting to have a conversation with a gorilla? They are also tamer and tend to live longer than wild gorillas. Gorillas in the wild may live up to 35 years while gorillas in controlled environments like zoos can live up to 50 years old.
Now, with all that I’ve told you about gorillas how do you think they communicate with other gorillas? Can you take a guess?
They communicate like you but non verbally. They use facial expressions, just like you would pout if you were unhappy, or smile if you were pleased.
They use sounds too but it is not a language like we speak. Their posture and gestures with their hands and legs also mean a lot. Sometimes gorillas can also touch noses and even hug with their long arms. Just like you hug your loved ones
Gorillas have their special beds they sleep in which are called nests made of twigs and leaves. Older gorilla have their nests on the ground while younger gorillas have theirs in trees.
The same way you are tucked into bed, gorillas also have their special beds. The twigs hold it together and the leaves are like their mattresses. Gorillas build these themselves, see how intelligent they are!
Can you think of any other animal which builds a nest in a tree? Birds build nests too.
One last and very interesting fact about gorillas is that they rarely ever drink water, they get the moisture they need from all they eat. That is one thing that is dissimilar to humans, we definitely need water to feel refreshed and hydrated.
As usual my little curious readers please find below my quiz on the largest primates, the Gorillas!
Looking forward to our next story! I send all of you a big Bear hug
Gorillas are very small animals. True/ False
The manner in which gorillas walk has a name. What is that name?
Answer: Knuckle Walk
Gorillas, humans, chimpanzees, lemurs all belong to the same biological order called……..
Where do young gorillas sit on their mothers?
Answer: On their mothers' backs
How long are gorillas pregnant for?
Answer: 9 months
Do gorillas have a brush they use to groom each other and themselves?
Answer: No, they use their teeth and fingers
What is a group of gorillas called?
Answer: A troop