A day in the life of a Gorilla

Let me start with a history of the family first. A silverback is a gorilla with fine silver hairs on his back. He is the main leader of the group, and the only one to mate with the females. These male gorillas only become silverbacks around 15 years old. Then they try to fight other silverbacks for females, or steal females to form a group. Every once in a while, a group will have two silverbacks but one is dominant. Then the blackbacks are adult males. They are considered so around 9 years old. A sub-adult is a gorilla from 4-8 years old, and a juvenile is any gorilla under 4 years old. The age a female becomes sexually active varies just as much as humans.

Whether they are wild or habituated gorillas the life of a gorilla group is relatively routine. Wake up time is usually around 7 when the sun is coming up. They are in no rush, slowly the whole group wakes up. They do a little yawning and a little stretching. Before the group is ready to leave their nest, they all defecate around the edge of the nest. (This is where I find some of my samples.) Its probably around 8am now, and everyone starts to move. When they find a place that the silverback thinks has good food, he communicates with his group. Most of his group will climb the trees for food. As they eat up on the tree tops, they also throw food down for the silverback. He reminds me of a fat Italian man waiting for his 5 course meal. Usually the blackbacks stay back in the group or on the outside of the group because they fear the silverback, so that means they also dont contribute to the silverbacks meal. The silverback will climb the trees if he wants or to break up fights between blackbacks or juveniles but he usually sits down on the forest floor waiting for food to be dropped. They will eat like this for an hour or two. If they are habituated, around 10 or 11am the tourists will find the gorillas either eating their breakfasts or taking naps. When the gorillas nap, usually the juveniles sleep around the silverback. They feel safe with him. An adult female or two might lay near the silverback as well, but not always. After lunch they are moving again, always looking for certain food. Sometimes they move towards the dense forest if its raining to get away from the rain. (gorillas dont like rain) They usually eat and nap 2-3 times a day. Then they find somewhere nice to make a nest. Its usually in these very soft leaves that they flatten down with their hands. By now its about 7pm when it gets dark. The adult females help the juveniles make their nests. The really young gorillas sleep with their moms, and the silverback is in the center of the nest. They usually sleep all night just to start it all over again!! Its a hard life being a gorilla.

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