Gorilla Breeding and Reproduction
Gorilla males are ready to mate when they are approximately 15 years of age. For females it is about 8
years of age. What is very interesting is that those in captivity seem to be ready to mate a couple of years
earlier than those in the wild. There isn’t a mating season and they can take part in this activity any time of the
Male offspring will remain part of the troop with their mother until they are approximately 11 years of age. At
that point they will venture out on their own, often joining with other bachelors. This lifestyle will continue for
a period of 2 to 5 years. Then they will begin searching for mates and creating new troops of their own.
They females will leave their troop about 10 years of age and venture alone until she finds a troop with a
dominant male that will let her in. All of this is part of nature’s way of preventing inbreeding from taking place
within the troops. When a female is ready to mate she will give off an odor that the males will pick up on.
They will generally only mate with the females within their own troop. There are times when a male is alone and
can smell the females ready to mate that are part of another troop. This is when he may decide to stand up to the
silverback and fight for the right to mate. Most of the time though these younger males decide to back down once
the silverback shows signs of aggression. They know they will be no match for his strength.
Gorillas are one of the only animals that are known to engage in different sexual positions like humans do. It
takes about 8 ½ months from conception for the gorilla to give birth. It is almost always just one at a time but
there are some rare cases of twins as well noted. They are from 4 to 4.5 pounds at birth.
The offspring will be nursed and cared for by the mother for about the first four years of life. What is very
interesting is that the troop leaders who are the big and powerful males have been known to take on the role of
caring for orphans that are part of their troop.
The mothers are amazing when it comes to taking care of their young. They will even fight of the males that may
try to kill some of the offspring as they view them as a threat from time to time. They mothers are often seen
holding them in their arms as we do with human babies.
When they mother is looking for food the baby will hang on to her in the front. When it is about 6 months old it
will ride on the back. They can’t walk on their own until about 8 months of age. She will continue to carry
the baby for about the first 2.5 years of life. It is believed this is to protect the young and to form a very
Due to the age of maturity and how much time they give to their offspring, each female may only have 3 or 4 of
them in their lifetime. They are said to be among the best caregivers in the animal world. Not only do they make
sure the young have their basic needs met but they also strive to give them plenty of affection as well. The
lifespan for a gorilla can vary significantly from 30 to 50 years.