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Western Lowland Gorilla

Scientific Name: Gorilla gorilla gorilla

Habitat: Tropical forests of west central Africa

Food: Fruits, vegetation, and insects such as termites and ants

Facts: All three subspecies of gorilla are endangered. Scientists estimate that there may be 30-35,000 western lowland gorillas, 3,000 eastern lowland gorillas, and 450 mountain gorillas alive in what is left of their natural habitat. Zoos throughout North America are working together to save gorillas and other endangered species. These efforts focus on breeding efforts to increase the populations of endangered species in zoos as a hedge against extinction in the wild.

Gorillas roam the dense moist forests of African in troops of two to 30 members. Their time is divided between feeding and resting. As evening approaches, gorillas make night nests from available vegetation.

Although they are the largest of the great apes (the family that includes gorillas, orangutans, and chimpanzees, gorillas do not live up to their "King Kong" reputation. They are quiet and peaceful vegetarians who will not harm people unless they are attacked or annoyed.

A female gorilla gives birth to one young after a gestation of eight and a half months. The newborn weighs less than 4 pounds (2 kg) at birth. Initially, the young clings to its mother's chest. Later, it learns to ride on her back. By 2 years of age, the juvenile begins to move about on its own. The world's first successful gorilla cesarean delivery was the Los Angeles Zoo's Caesar, born June 1, 1977.