Gorilla vs Bear: The 2 Key Differences

Written by Heather Hall
Updated: September 21, 2022
© A-Z-Animals.com
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Key Points

  • Gorillas and bears are popularly thought to be aggressive animals, but they are not.
  • Both animals have large teeth and are heavy in size and stature.
  • Overall, the fight between gorilla and bear would come down to which bear and circumstances.

Gorillas and bears are both known for their defensive capabilities, and sometimes offensive. Could these two take each other in a fight? Or are the scales too unequally balanced?

What follows is a thorough look into two noble creatures in the world. While these animals are legendary for instilling fear, these giants are capable of being calm, gentle, and even friendly.

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Species of bears can be found all over the world:

Bears are technically not the “dangerous” creature many make them out to be. While they are quite large and intimidating, they are more likely to ignore humans. However, bears remain infamous for the few negative interactions had with humans.

The truth is a person is more likely to die from drowning, falling, or even from an insect sting than getting attacked by a bear. In fact, you are more likely to run into trouble on a U.S. highway driving to the trailhead!


Bears are found on several continents around the world including North America, South America, Europe, and Asia. Different species range through different habitats but generally bears stick to prairies and foothills, temperate rainforests, and even the Arctic tundra.


Mistaken for carnivores, bears are actually omnivores. Other than meat, bears forage for berries, plants, insects, grass, etc. They have a pretty open palate. Depending on species and region, each species of bear may have variations in diet.


Mothers and cubs are generally seen together in family groups during mating season and until the cubs are old enough to go out on their own. Otherwise, bears are solitary animals that will occasionally gather around large food sources.

Contrary to popular belief, bears are not usually aggressive! In the cases where bears have attacked and killed humans, there were reasons specific to the bear such as lack of food, disease, etc. Bears do raid human trash disposals and even their homes in search of snacks but will run away if confronted most of the time.


There are 2 species of gorilla:

The species are split into two subspecies each:

Gorillas are the largest of the great apes. These apes are gentle, loving, intelligent, and capable of openly demonstrating human behavior and emotion. Built stocky and broad in the chest and shoulders, gorillas resemble other primates with their five-digit hands, including opposable thumbs.


Equatorial Africa is where gorillas make their homes. Different subspecies of gorilla span different parts of the continent in this area, giving them their names. The habitat of these primates is the lowland tropical rainforests of Central Africa


Gorillas are herbivores and mainly dine on plants, such as bamboo shoots, fruits, stems, and leaves. Western gorillas do have a tendency to dig out termites and ants, breaking open nests to eat their larvae.


Large in stature, these apes are powerful animals, even capable of pulling small trees out of the ground. Gorillas utilize intimidating chest-beating to ward off predators or unwanted visitors in their territory.

Generally social, these animals can share territory with other troops of gorillas but, should one male from another troop look to unseat the silverback, fights can break out. Brute strength tends to resolve the dilemma.

Gorillas spend much of their time searching for food, around 14 hours a day! These giants then rest for the other part of their day, after having moved around 1,000 meters during foraging.

As great apes, and intelligent ones at that, gorillas are close to humans in nature. They show the ability to communicate, make and use tools, enjoy family ties, and even show emotion. Gorillas can think about the past and dream about the future. Unfortunately, due to having such a limited environmental niche and being deemed dangerous, the gorilla has become an endangered species. Poaching, wars, and the diminishing tropical forest have also put these amazing creatures in danger of going extinct.

Comparing Gorilla vs Bear

Here is a quick chart breaking down the battle of bear versus gorilla.

Gorillas are the world’s largest primates. Ground-dwellers, are herbivorous creatures. Gorillas come in four subspecies: Mountain, Eastern Lowland, Cross River, and Western Lowland gorillas.Bears are doglike carnivorans. They live in forests and are generally peaceful animals who are more likely to get into mischief than threaten and harm humans
SizeGorillas can grow a little over five feet in height. The Western gorilla will max out at 350 lbs. The Eastern gorilla’s weight will range between 310 and 450.Bears, in their many species, can grow anywhere between eight and up to 10 feet tall. They can up to 1,000 lbs.
HabitatGorilla dwell in Central Africa lowland tropical rainforests. There are subspecies to find in bamboo forests and montane rainforests.Bears live in forests, tundras, mountains, icelands, grassy areas, and sometimes in deserts. There are a variety of species found around the globe that have adapted to a range of ecosystems.
LifespanGorillas can live 35 to 40 years.Many bears do not reach the 25 years they have coming to them. Human activity tends to shorten their time.
AppearanceGorilla has dark complexions with brownish-grey or black hair. Their backs are saddled and they carry themselves in ways that make them look larger.Bears are famous for their intimidating height. They’re stocky and thick, with long snouts, shaggy hair, and short tails. Bears have plantigrade paws with retractile claws.

The 3 Key Differences Between Bear and Gorilla

Living in different parts of the world, the bear and the gorilla are unlikely to run into each other. There are similarities but they are distinct creatures unto themselves.

Gorilla vs Bear: Mobility:

Both are fast. The gorilla can hit 20 mph at the least. The gorilla also has an exceptional response time. But if it was a footrace, the bear would dust the gorilla. It can reach speeds of up to 35 mph.

Gorillas tend to move on all fours but can be bipedal. Bears are similar in this regard. Both animals climb trees but the gorilla is unlikely to get stuck in a tree, while the bear gets trapped all the time.

Gorilla vs Bear: Aggression:

Both animals are generally gentle but capable of great ferocity when prompted. Bears do not usually fight but rather “posture,” meaning they face off without interacting and the bigger bear wins. Gorillas, on the other hand, can end up fighting to the death over territory, using sharp canines to inflict fatal blows.

Gorilla vs Bear: Size

The gorilla is a large creature but it stands no taller than the average human, around 5ft. Their weight can tip the scale at 430 lbs. A fully-grown bear, on the other hand, can reach seven feet or more in height and breaks the scale at a potential 800 lbs.

Gorilla vs Bear: Who Would Win?

Ultimately, we believe the fight would go to the gorilla. While certain bears can be fierce and mighty, gorillas are mobile, fast, and vicious. They have powerful jaws, and large teeth, and have it in their nature to fight over territory, while bears do not.

Up Next…

So the gorilla defeated the bear. Can they prevail in other fights? Find out here:

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About the Author

I am a freelance writer with 22 years of experience. I live in the Pacific Northwest and am surrounded by nature. When I go for my daily runs I often see herds of elk, deer, and bald eagles. I am owned by two dogs who take me on hikes in the mountains where we see coyotes, black bears, and wild turkeys.

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) 

Would a gorilla beat a bear?

If you’re counting on strength, the bear has the advantage. But gorillas are fast and intelligent. And they have one of the most powerful arms in the world. In the real world though, unless the situation was extreme, both animals are more likely to ignore each other than anything.

What animal can beat a bear?

While this is mostly speculation, it would be no surprise if a rhino, elephant, or hippo took out a bear. Ferocious creatures like tigers and lions will be a challenge, as well as several species of bull.

Who would win: black bear or gorilla?

The black bear is a smaller species but still has body strength. Unfortunately, the gorilla has exceptional dexterity. The bear will lunge but it won’t pull or grab or wrestle like the gorilla. It’s most likely the gorilla take this one.

Are these species endangered?

Both gorillas and bears are endangered. Humankind continues to encroach on their freedom by hunting and destroying their ecosystems.

Thank you for reading! Have some feedback for us? Contact the AZ Animals editorial team.