Bristol Zoo Gardens is home to a family of seven western lowland gorillas: one silverback Jock, females Kera, Kala and Touni and youngsters Afia and Ayana. Kera gave birth to Afia who was born by emergency caesarean section in February 2016 and Touni gave birth to Ayana in April 2017. More recently in August 2020, Kala gave birth to the seventh member of the troop!
Western lowland gorillas are Critically Endangered primates (mammals) from Cameroon, in the west Central Africa region.
When walking, gorillas walk on the soles of their feet and the knuckles of their hands, although they can walk a few metres standing on their legs alone.
The dominant male makes the most noise. He has a range of calls that alert the group of approaching predators. His chest-drumming display can be heard a couple of kilometres away. This display serves to keep neighbouring groups out of sight of one another. If they do meet, the males may smash plants around, charge and beat their chests in a display of strength. The females are rather quieter, with a vocabulary of grunts and grumbles.
Did you know you can adopt mighty Jock or young Afia? For a truly unique gift - while contributing to our conservation fund - click here to adopt!
Western lowland gorillas are herbivores; their diet consists of vegetation, some fruits, and nuts.
Our gorillas eat a wide variety of vegetables, nuts, eggs, branches and a specially made biscuit, to give them all the nutrients they need. Besides constant fresh water being available for drinking, they are also given sugar-free Ribena and herbal tea.
In the wild, western lowland gorillas live in tropical rainforest.
Gorillas’ beds are simply a mat of nearby vegetation thrown together to form a cosy nest. They prefer to live in areas where there is a mass of low-level juicy vegetation: old river beds, old clearings or areas affected by landslides.
The wild population of western lowland gorillas is estimated somewhere between 90,000 and 110,000.
Many gorillas are killed for the 'bush meat' trade where animals are shot by hunters and the meat sold to traders in towns and cities.
As there are so few western lowland gorillas, it is necessary to manage the populations in human care and wild populations, if the species is to recover. Bristol Zoo Gardens is actively involved in ensuring there is a strong population in human care.
Click here to find out about our conservation work in Equatorial Guinea to protect the western lowland gorilla and why we need to do more.
Afia, our baby western lowland gorilla was born at the Zoo after a rare caesarean section. Afia was hand-raised behind-the-scenes by keepers for the first eight months of her life, before being slowly reintroduced to the troop just in time for Christmas. Her birth mother, Kera, was too poorly following the emergency operation to care for Afia. Kera suffered with pre-eclampsia pre-birth and severe anaemia following. It isn’t known whether Kera knows that Afia is her daughter, however, keepers say that both Kera and Afia enjoy spending time together.
You can find our family of western lowland gorillas on Gorilla Island and indoors in the Gorilla House.
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