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Gorilla’s Reproduction Cycle, Behavior and Social Structure


All animals are characterized by a unique reproduction cycle, behavior, and social structure. Members of the same species share such bithe ological and social characteristic hence the reason why each species is distinct and unique. Gorillas are a group of mammals classified as primates. The same group contains humans, apes, monkey, and lemurs, to mention just a few. They are large animals, although there is a disparity in size between males and females.

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They feed on leaves as well as fruits, but young gorillas are mostly breastfed. The classification emanates from their habitat, since lowland gorillas live in the lowlands, while mountain gorillas live in the mountainous regions. However, once they become ten years of age, the hair on the back of the male gorillas turn to a silver grey color. Although the male look violent, they are shy and friendly unless provoked. With that background in mind, this paper discusses their reproduction cycle, behavior, and social structure.


Gorilla’s Reproduction Cycle

Although there are two classifications of gorillas, there is no much difference between the two groups. However, male gorillas mature late compared to their female counterparts. Even though, females can mate and start to reproduce at around eight years of age; males take longer since their breeding starts at around fifteen to twenty years of age.

At puberty stage, male gorillas dissociate themselves with their natal groups mates and establish their groups although they my also travel alone. They end up staying in that group for their whole life unless they are thrown out by other stronger males. Like other animals, males are always involved in fights especially while competing for female’s mates and more often than not, the fights may end up being fatal (Mountain Gorillas, n.d.)

The reproduction rate of gorillas is usually one baby in every three to four years. However, it is important to note that even though the reproduction rate is high, there is high mortality rate for the young gorillas and that is the reason why the population remains stable. The gestation period of gorillas is about two hundred and fifty one to two hundred and ninety five days. At birth, a young gorilla weighs two kilograms or even slightly less.

The female gorilla carries the baby four around forty weeks and breastfeeds it for a year. Young gorillas are nursed for around three to four years and are weaned at around the same age. Although female gorillas give birth to around four to six infants in their reproductive age, the species is still threatened due to high mortality rate (Harcourt & Greenberg, 2001).

The Gorilla Behavior and Social Structure

As highlighted earlier in the introductory part, gorillas are social animals which live in stable groups known as the troops. The relationship among the group members is reinforced by strong bonds that exist between male and female gorillas of the same group. Each group has got its leader who is usually the most mature and the stronger male gorilla, referred to as silverback. In most cases, a single group comprises the head, one or two sub adult male gorillas, a number of female gorillas and their young ones.

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In most cases, the number may add up to thirty. The group head has got many roles which include protecting the members from danger, deciding on the time the group gets up in the morning, deciding on the destination of the group and deciding on the appropriate time to rest. Although all the gorillas live in the same area of the forest, each troop has got its own specific area and does not occupy the area of the other troops.

Gorillas are not only intelligent creatures but they are also gentle since they rarely make use of their strength. Nevertheless, they fight while defending their group members as well as their breeding and family rights. The territory of one group is approximately fifteen square miles. Although they mainly feed on plants and the fruits, they also eat some insects and worms.

During the day, gorillas spend most of their time eating and usually sleep at night. Although they make their nests on the trees, the heavier gorillas sleep on the grass, while the young gorillas sleep with their mothers. Similar to other animals gorillas, do communicate in various ways. For example, studies of Jurmain, Kilgore, & Trevathan ( 2008) indicate that males keep of predators by screaming roaring or even barking.

Comparison of the Gorillas’ Behaviour with Pattern in Our Culture

Study of the behavior of the gorilla indicates that they have human and non human characteristics. To begin with the social structures of the gorillas is similar in various ways to the structure in the society. They live in group which has got one head who has a responsibility of deciding various issues and activities of the group.

Similarly, in the society, human beings are organized in to families and each family contains the head who has the responsibility of making important decisions pertaining to the welfare of the family. Like a family in the society, every troop is distinct and unique and conations its own dwelling place.

A troop of gorilla is formed after either one or more female gorillas join a mature male. After mating and giving birth to young gorillas, the troop becomes complete. Studies of Jurmain, Kilgore, & Trevathan (2008) indicate that there exists a strong relationship between the members of a troop which emanates from the relationship between males and females of the same troop.

Similarly, in the society, members of the same family are joined by strong martial bonds between a male and a female. On the same note, it is important to mention that the case of the gorilla is a bit different with the case of humans because their troop contains many members.

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The study has indicated that unless provoked, gorillas are peaceful and social animals. However, they always become furious if people or other gorillas threaten their lives or interfere with their rights. Similarly, human beings are social and live peacefully with each other. However, conflicts may arise between one group and the other once a misunderstanding occurs. However, there exists some norms and values which members of the society to live peacefully with each other.

Gorillas are usually active during the day and rest during the night. Studies have indicated that they have their nests either on trees or on the grass depending with the weight of a particular animal. Their young ones sleep with their mother who continues to take care of them until they became of age.

The same behavior can be observed in our culture because human beings have got a habit of being active during the day and resting at night. In addition, the young gorillas are usually under the care of their mothers until they become of age and go ahead to join their own group. The same case applies to human beings because children start their own families once they become of age (Jurmain, Kilgore, & Trevathan, 2008).


As highlighted in their introductory part, gorillas are similar to human beings in various ways since both falls under the same group of primates although there are some differences. Social organization of gorillas and human beings is almost the same due to the fact that, both are organized in to small groups.

The social organization is very important because it helps to provide a favorable environment for socialization of the new members of the community. Young children and young gorillas require a stable and favorable environment which is only possible in a family or troop set up to be able to obtain and develop survival tactics.

Although the smallest unit of social organization of gorillas is quite large, compared to that of human beings, it still serves the intended purpose. Order is maintained because every group occupies its own area. Reproduction is highly valued since it leads to recreation. However, cross breeding is encouraged both in the gorilla and human population.

That is the main reason why once a gorilla matures; it looks for its own group and leaves the group of its parents. Communication is both evident in both groups. However, although gorillas make sounds when communicating, human beings are able to do it more explicitly (Ferraro, 2006).


Although gorillas are a bit different from human beings there are similar to people in various ways. A study of their reproduction cycle, behavior and social structure clearly illustrates the similarities that exist in the two groups. Gorillas take good care of their offspring although there is a high mortality rate. The social organization of having one member to lead a particular unit enhances order, which is very significant in society.

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Social order is very important, and it ought to be the culture of every society and can be achieved by enhancing cohesion among the members of the society. Therefore, some aspects of culture like the good relationship among members of the society are very important since they enhance peace and reduce conflicts.


Ferraro. (2006). Cultural anthropology: an applied perspective. Stamford : Cengage Learning.

Harcourt, A. H., & Greenberg, J. (2001). Do gorilla females join males to avoid infanticide? A quantitative model. Animal Behaviour , 62 (5), 905-915.

Jurmain, R., Kilgore, L., & Trevathan, W. (2008). Essentials of Physical Anthropology. Stamford : Cengage Learning.

Mountain Gorillas. Web.

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