Western lowland gorilla (Gorilla gorilla gorilla)

Acrylic on masonite

Smallest of two lowland gorilla subspecies, the critically endangered western lowland gorilla is a peaceful, ground-dwelling primate found in the lowland swamps and secondary forests of central Africa. Gorillas are the largest of the great apes or hominids, which also include chimpanzees, orangutans, bonobos and humans. All gorillas are listed as endangered or critically endangered due to threats from habitat loss, disease and poaching. They are mainly herbivorous, eating a wide range of fruits and leaves but supplementing their diets with termites, ants and larvae. They live in structured, family groups led by a mature male silverback and communicate with a range of non-vocal and vocal behaviours, including barks, laughs, hoots and grunts. Up to 25 different communicative sounds have been identified, all with different meaning. Gorillas are intelligent, social creatures, some even learning to communicate with sign language. Koko of the Gorilla Foundation in Santa Cruz, CA, had an active vocabulary of a young child and a kitten she named “All Ball”.

For more about this species, visit the Smithsonian’s National Zoo >>

Original: Available

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