Wednesday, June 1, 2016


This week a tragedy took place at the Cincinnati Zoo. There was mixed emotion about the circumstances which lead up to the death of Harambe. Rather than dwell on what occurred, I want to honor him by telling you a bit about his species. I am hoping that my readers will stop for a minute and ponder on how humans have had an effect on wildlife all around the world. They aren’t safe in the wild, and sometimes it seems they’re not safe in zoos.

When people come in conflict with wild animals, whether it’s due to human greed, need or otherwise, problems arise. Somehow I hope that we will find a way to live in harmony with nature and all other life on this planet.

So this week, let’s meet the Eastern Gorilla (Gorilla beringei), which is also known as the Mountain Gorilla.

He looks like a pretty tough customer. I think he needs to be. He’s fighting the odds. Unlike other games you’ve heard tell of, the odds are certainly not always in his favor.

There are two species of Gorilla; they are, Gorilla beringei, which is the Eastern Gorilla and Gorilla gorilla, which is the Western Gorilla. Their names define the areas in Africa in which they live.

It is estimated that there are as few as 700 Eastern Gorillas in the wild. Nearly half of them live in the forests of the Virunga Mountains in Central Africa, in Rwanda, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The Eastern Gorilla is the largest member of the primate family and the largest species of Gorilla. Despite its tremendous strength, the Gorilla is a shy and quiet creature and will engage only when threatened.

The Eastern Gorilla can weigh up to 400 pounds and grow 5 to 6 feet in height. Unlike humans, a Gorilla’s arms are longer than their legs. Their arm span can be up to eight feet long.

They are dimorphic, which means that there is a difference between the males and the females. In the case of Gorillas, the male Gorilla is much larger than the female. In some animals, mostly birds, you can see the difference in how they look. This difference in appearance is called ornamentation dimorphism.

Although it appears to be a fearsome beast, the Eastern Gorilla is a gentle giant and with strong family tendencies. It tends to live in larger groups than some of the other species. They have been known to form social groups of up to fifty individuals.

In the following video, we can witness both the strength of the Gorilla and its protective nature. Watch as this magnificent silverback stands and waits until his family crosses the road safely. It’s an intimidating picture, but I was so impressed with his stature and presence. Take a moment to watch.

The distinctive silver fur on the back of the larger gorillas will begin to appear at eleven years of age. The silverback represents that the male is mature and is a leader of their social group. The silver fur is also a form of communication and a warning to other males in the group. There may be other, younger silverbacks in the group, but they will support the leader.

Photo credit:

Gorillas have only one baby every three to four years. The span in between births allows the group time to properly raise a baby. Like a human child, it takes a long time to do. A baby gorilla is not weaned from its mother until it is about three and a half years old. Females reach maturity at about seven or eight years, but usually don’t have their first baby until they are ten. Males do not reach maturity until about age twelve. Due to competition with other males in the group, a male may not breed until his fifteenth year.

They have few natural enemies; only the Leopard and an occasional alligator pose a threat. Its largest threat comes from man. There is continued poaching and habitat destruction, both taking its toll on their population.

To learn more, visit the following sites:

As usual, my sincerest thanks to for some of the information and pictures.

Thank you so much for stopping by to read about the magnificent Gorilla and to remember Harambe. I am glad the little boy was safe after the encounter at the zoo, but my heart is with the keepers who had to make and carry out such a terrible decision.

Jeanne E. Rogers, Award Winning Author
The Sword of Demelza, and The Gift of Sunderland
Middle-Grade Fantasy Where Endangered Animals Heroes Roam the Pages!

Coming soon! 
One Hot Mess, A Child's Environmental Fable
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