Western Lowland Gorillas
At Chessington we have a troop of 9 Western Lowland Gorillas: Damisi, Shani, Asili, Shanga, Mbula, Mwana, Kuanza, Kipande and Aarde. Damisi is the silverback and the leader of the group; Shani, Shanga and Asili are the breeding females; Mbula, Mwana and Kuanza are the naughty teenagers; and finally, Kipande and Aarde, the baby of the troop.
There are 4 subspecies of Gorilla: Mountain Gorilla, Eastern Lowland Gorilla, Western Lowland Gorilla and Cross River Gorilla. Of all the subspecies, Western Lowland Gorillas are the smallest. They are also the most widespread subspecies, found across Central and Western Africa. They live in thick tropical rainforests, spending most of their day foraging for food.
Gorillas are currently listed as critically endangered due to the actions of rapidly increasing human populations. The biggest threats to gorilla population is the loss of habitat through modification and agriculture; habitat disturbance; being illegally hunted by humans for bushmeat; the live ape trade; climate change; invasive species; energy production and mining; and the spread of diseases from humans.
Often Gorillas are mistaken for monkeys, but they are not, they are apes. Whilst apes and monkeys are both part of the primate suborder, there are lots of differences between them. For example, apes do not have tails like monkeys do and have larger bodies and brains. Apes are also better adapted to swing between branches, whereas monkeys are better adapted to run along branches. Other examples of apes include humans, bonobos, chimpanzees and orangutans.