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Western lowland gorilla

Gorilla gorilla gorilla

Male Western lowland gorilla Kivu at Paignton Zoo
IUCN Conservation Status –
Least Concern
Extinct In The Wild
Class: Mammals
Order: Primates
Family: Hominidae

At Paignton Zoo we have a bachelor group of gorillas that live in our Ape Centre: Pertinax, Kivu, Kiondo and N’Dowe. You might recognise Kiondo as he played Jurgen on CBBC’s The Zoo!

This gorilla subspecies inhabits tropical forests and lowland swamps in Central Africa (Cameroon, Gabon, Angola and Democratic Republic of Congo).

These great apes are vegetarians, meaning they have a herbivorous diet of fruit, shoots and tree bark. Our gorillas are fed a mixed diet of vegetables, pellet and browse.

Interesting facts!

  • Gorillas live and travel together in stable groups. An average family is made up of adult females, their offspring of different ages and an adult male, called the silverback because of his fur colour.
  • The western lowland gorilla may be the smallest of the four gorilla subspecies, but they are still extremely powerful! An adult male can weigh as much as 250kg.
  • These great apes are incredibly intelligent and have complex emotions. They are generally peaceful mammals.
  • Usually a single youngster is born after a gestation of 8 to 9 months. The infant is kept belly-to-belly with its mother until the age of 2 months, when it is mature and strong enough to be able to cling onto the mother’s fur. Youngsters are not fully weaned until 3 years old.


Western lowland gorillas are primarily threatened by human activities such as habitat destruction, hunting for their meat and capture for the wildlife trade. Their habitat destruction is associated with mining for coltan, a metallic ore used in mobile phones and electronics.

These great apes are classified as Critically Endangered on the IUCN Red List. Conservation education and ecotourism programmes are being developed to encourage the protection of gorillas within reserves across Central Africa. Our male gorillas are part of the EAZA ex-situ breeding programme (EEP) for the species.

Sponsor a gorilla

By sponsoring a gorilla today, you will make a real contribution to the care of our apes at the zoo, and our vital work for wildlife across the world.

Our sponsorship packs make a super gift for animal lovers of any age. Prices start from as little as £35 per year (that’s less than £3 per month!) with three different packs to choose from.